stars "Sling allowed Union Square Hospitality Group to schedule smarter instead of harder." - Bradley K., USHG

Dress Code Policy: The Complete Guide For Managers

two women discussing dress code policy

Don’t let individual style give your business a bad image. Implement a dress code policy to cultivate the identity, character, and culture that is best for your company.

Regardless of whether you run a restaurant, a coffee shop, a catering business, or a Fortune 500 company, your team, your customers, and your business itself can benefit from a clear and comprehensive dress code policy.

In this complete guide for managers, the workforce-management experts at Sling help you understand everything that goes into crafting the right dress code policy for your organization.

Does Your Business Need A Dress Code Policy?

business owners creating a dress code policy

Many managers and business owners avoid implementing a dress code because of the inherent difficulties in the process.

They wonder, “How can I set an appropriate tone for my business while, at the same time, giving my team members the freedom to dress according to their personal style?”

Another common question many managers ask is, “How can I ensure that I don’t violate local, state, and federal laws in either the dress code policy itself or the way that I enforce it?”

Those are valid concerns, but you’ll be surprised how quickly they disappear when you start crafting the policy that works for your business.

Despite the worry, the concern, the time, and the effort that go into establishing a new policy such as this, every business needs a dress code.

Outlining what types of dress are acceptable — and what types of dress are not acceptable — for your company provides structure, clarity, and guidelines that can actually reduce stress for you and your team members.

Your employees will know exactly what your expectations are, and you’ll have a set of standards you can point to should a team member ever wear something unacceptable.

Common Types Of Dress Code Policy

man dressed in a business suit

There are four main types of dress code:

  1. Formal
  2. Business casual
  3. Casual
  4. Summer casual

Within those four broad categories lie countless variations that you can use to create the guidelines that are perfect for your business.

Formal Business Attire

This is the strictest category of dress code and requires that employees wear:

  • Suit and tie
  • Skirt suit
  • Close-toed shoes

Traditional workplaces, such as law firms and accounting firms, often adhere to this professional dress code policy.

Business Casual

Business casual is the most common dress code in effect these days. As such, most team members understand what it is and accept it as standard.

Business casual includes (but is not restricted to):

  • Slacks
  • Khakis
  • Blouses
  • Collared shirts
  • Sweaters
  • Closed-toed footwear (including athletic shoes)

With business casual, you also have to start thinking about what constitutes inappropriate work attire for your company (e.g., sweatpants, yoga pants, jeans, t-shirts, sandals, shorts).

Casual

man dressed casually and working at a coffee shop

The casual dress code is a step down from the business casual policy on which it’s based. Acceptable clothes often include the same items in the business casual category, as well as:

  • Jeans
  • T-shirts
  • Sandals

In many businesses, business casual and casual often overlap. You’ll need to decide what’s right for your company and be specific with acceptable and unacceptable attire.

Summer Casual

Summer casual is another step down from the casual category and typically allows:

  • Shorts
  • Sleeveless tops
  • T-shirts
  • Sandals
  • Flip-flops

Summer casual is the least strict of the four broad categories (meaning there’s a lot of variation in what employees can wear).

Businesses that hire seasonal workers during the summer or businesses that are striving for a more relaxed atmosphere (e.g., bars, outdoor restaurants, food trucks, etc.) may benefit from this type of dress code policy.

What To Include In Your Dress Code Policy

group of women looking at a dress code policy on laptops

A comprehensive dress code policy addresses more than just clothing.

When creating your first dress code policy, though, we recommend limiting yourself to just what your employees should and shouldn’t wear.

Once you’ve settled on the attire that is appropriate for your business, you can go back and address other variables, such as:

  • Safety
  • Jewelry
  • Fragrance
  • Piercings
  • Tattoos
  • Insignia (union, political, product)
  • Disabilities
  • Religion (i.e., head coverings)
  • Gender issues

You may even want to include information on hygiene and grooming in your policy to avoid many of the problems that can present themselves these days.

Incorporating the bulleted variables mentioned above into your dress code may dictate that you add or remove some clothing restrictions. That’s OK.

For example, you may have allowed loose shirts and jewelry as well as long sleeves in the first draft of your dress code.

Once you start to think about safety — which often trumps every other dress code consideration — you may decide that this type of attire could get caught in widely-used equipment.

You would then need to strike that clothing from your dress code and add information about tight — but not too tight — attire that is acceptable in your business.

How To Communicate Your Dress Code Policy

coworkers eating together

Even the most comprehensive policy is useless if no one sees it. To ensure that your guidelines reach every member of your team, include the dress code policy in your employee handbook.

If you’re introducing a new dress code into an existing business, convene a team meeting, go over the guidelines point by point, and answer any questions that might come up.

If you’re bringing a new employee onto the team, discuss the dress code during both the interview and onboarding processes.

In either case, be sure to have each employee sign off that they have read, understand, and agree to comply with the dress code policy.

Keep a copy of the signature in each team member’s personnel file for future reference.

Sample Dress Code Policy

In this section, we’ve created a sample dress code policy for your reference. Feel free to use it as-is (after changing the names, of course) or alter it to fit the needs of your business.

<START SAMPLE DRESS CODE POLICY>

In order to maintain an appropriate professional environment for our team members, clients, and customers, Serenity Valley Transport maintains a formal business attire dress code.

This document serves as a non-exhaustive list of apparel that is and isn’t appropriate for Serenity Valley Transport employees.

Managers have discretion to enforce the code in a fair, reasonable, and consistent manner.

Team members who report to work dressed in a way that violates the policy may be asked to go home and change clothes.

Repeated violations of Serenity Valley Transport’s dress code policy will be considered a disciplinary infraction and will be dealt with accordingly.

Brief definition of formal work attire:

  • Pantsuit
  • Skirt suit (knee-length or longer)
  • Suit and tie (no blazers or sport coats)
  • Closed-toed shoes
  • Stockings (for those wearing skirts)

Inappropriate work attire:

  • Jeans
  • Sweatpants
  • Yoga pants (or leggings of any kind)
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Any clothing that shows midriff, shoulders, or legs above the knee
  • Any clothing that is dirty, overly tight, revealing, or ripped
  • Flip-flops
  • Sandals
  • Open-toed shoes
  • Athletic shoes
  • Workboots
  • Construction boots

________________________________________________________________

Employee Signature and date

By signing this document, you acknowledge that you received, understand, and agree to comply with Serenity Valley Transport’s dress code policy as outlined above.

<END SAMPLE DRESS CODE POLICY>

Revise Your Policy As Needed

hands typing on a laptop

More than likely, you won’t write your dress code policy and be done forever. Standards and styles will change. Old rules will become outdated and new rules will become necessary.

Revisit and revise your dress code policy at least once per year or whenever a question or concern arises.

Feel free to tweak the policy to address the unique needs of your team, your customers, and your business. As long as the code is fair to everyone involved and you’re consistent with its enforcement, there shouldn’t be an issue.

Of course, both the crafting of a new dress code policy and its regular upkeep take time — time that you as a busy manager may not have. That’s where the Sling app can help.

pasted image 0 11

Sling combines all the tools you need to both manage your own schedule and optimize your workforce.

But the benefits that Sling has to offer don’t stop there. You can also control labor costs, stay on budget, simplify payroll calculations, and communicate better with your team.

All of that and more from one integrated app.

Sign up for a free trial today to find out what Sling can do for your business.

And for more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.

Get started today

Schedule faster, communicate better, get things done.