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Your Rough Guide to Dress Codes

Deciding upon a dress code for you company is a harder task than it sounds.  You need to strike a fine balance between making your employees fee comfortable and welcome while still promoting a professional atmosphere. At the same time, companies have to consider exactly what kind. Obviously a 150-year-old financial firm is going to want to have a more formal dress code to align with its history and prestige, while a scrappy dot com start up will usually allow its employees to wear whatever they want while the organization gets off the ground.   Here is a rough summary of the four most common dress codes in business.   Street Clothes What would you put on in order to grab some milk at the store?  That’s basically what street clothes are: comfortable, informal, but still something you don’t mind strangers seeing you in. Clothes can be as simple as T shirts, shorts, jeans, and even sandals.  Companies who have a “street clothes” dress code want to make you feel comfortable, but still give you the opportunity be stylish if you want.   Example: Facebook Led by the hoodie wearing CEO Mark Zukerburg, the recently public company lets its employees wear just about anything they want.   Casual A company that has a casual dress code still wants people to feel comfortable, but wear something that is a step higher than street clothes.  It usually forbids shorts, open toed shoes, or anything that might be too revealing. Just about anything else is A-OK.   Example: Apple Like  Zukerburg, the late Steve Jobs led the company dress code by example with his iconic jean and black turtleneck combo.   Business Casual Business casual is for companies that want their employees to look professional, but without going as far as wearing a suit. For men, it means wearing a collared  shirt and black slacks.  For women, it means wearing a tailored shirts or blouses in muted colors.  This is still the most popular dress code in most professional office environments.   Example: Insurance Companies Insurance companies usually want to appear put-together and professional when speaking with clients, but don’t feel the need to go as far as a suit.   Business Informal Business informal is the highest rung of dress code, and necessitates well-tailored suit. In today’s climate, companies that still require a tie and jacket are usually reserved for older companies, companies that wish to foster a highly professional atmosphere, and companies in a profession that is steeped in tradition (like law, finance, or politics).   Example: Law Offices   If you plan on working in law, even if you won’t work as a lawyer, you probably will be expected to dress like someone in the above picture.  Law involves a great deal of money and a lot of intricate procedures, so firms want to have as professional an image as possible.   Just remember that every company has a different dress code that might not match what is described in this post, so consult your company handbook before deciding what to wear.


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