Do You Have….Or Need A Dress Code?

Workers who are coming back to the office have to get used to not working in their PJs or sweats that working from home afforded them for many months.  So will managers now have to revisit dress codes?

In some instances, dress codes make sense, but it is not a universal need. 

When I worked in radio, it didn’t matter if I wore jeans as no one saw me. I know of some TV news anchors who wear jeans because the audience never sees what is below the desk.

Even some of the largest law firms have abandoned the suit and white shirt code for men and dresses and heels for women.

Of course, some managers take an old-line approach to what their employees wear. The elected city attorney in Milwaukee released a new code that says employees cannot wear “revealing or tight clothes, no cleavage, no dresses or skirts above the knee, no bare backs, no halter tops, no open-toe shoes, and no fragrances.”  Some have wondered who will be monitoring cleavage?  What makes his mandate even more interesting is that as the top litigant, Tearman Spencer, has been accused of sexual harassment and telling a female staff member that she had “very nice calves.”

A study by StitchMine showed that 87% of workers believe adopting a more relaxed office dress code improves morale and that 47% believe it improves productivity. And, it saves workers money when they don’t have to buy new clothing.

On the other hand, a Scientific American article says more formal outfits lead to higher abstract thinking. It is commonly thought dressing up gets you more respect.

Know that a survey by, shows that only 55% of workplaces have a dress code

So which path should you follow?

It depends.

If you are a lawyer appearing in court, you are likely expected to wear suits and more formal attire.

If you are a computer programmer working on code, with no contact with customers, casual jeans and T-shirts are OK.

Good bosses who feel dress codes are needed, develop standards that reflect their industry and put boundaries in place so that things don’t get out of hand.

If as the boss you feel the need to have a set of rules in place, it would be wise to have conversations with your employees to discuss those boundaries. Seeking input will likely result in a code that most people will respect.

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) came up with a two-word code: “No nudity.”  You and your colleagues can decide if this is a good starting point or endpoint for your dress code.

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