Have you ever shown up to a job interview in a pantsuit, only to discover that everyone is wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and t-shirts? While we strongly believe in the quote, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” it seems like businesses these days are going more and more casual.
Here at YellowDog, we fully support the laid-back approach, but we are a small creative agency with the freedom to wear what we like (we’ll always get spruced up for client meetings, though)! Are you feeling like your business might be ready to shed the neckties and blazers? While there are numerous benefits to instilling a casual dress code, don’t show up to work in flip flops just yet! Here are some guidelines that will help you determine what type of dress code is right for your business and what kind of limitations to set.
Dress Codes Defined
Before you tell everyone to roll in with their yoga pants, let’s take a look at the 4 basic dress codes you’ll find in most offices.
Business Formal – Also known as boardroom attire, this is the most conservative dress code of all (think Mad Men). This type of attire would be incorporated in the professional fields such as law, business executives, etc. Men are usually required to wear neutral colored suits, ties, button-up shirts, and closed toe Oxford shoes, while women wear a skirt or pantsuit, closed toe heels, and tights.
Business Professional – This is a more common type of dress code – while it’s still conservative (think suits and button-up shirts), you have more freedom to wear colors, flashier jewelry, and patterns.
Business Casual – This is probably the most common dress code across America. You won’t find suits here, but you will find business separates such as button-down shirts, pencil skirts, sweaters, and khakis.
Casual (aka comfortable!) – This dress code consists of items like jeans, open-toed shoes, t-shirts, and funky jewelry, but it can be hard to distinguish the fine line between “acceptable casual” and “a little too casual.”
The Perks of a Casual Dress Code
Maybe you want to attract potential employees to join your office, or maybe you just can’t face the sight of another business suit. Either way, both creative and more traditional office environments are embracing the casual dress code trend. Still feeling a little unsure about showing up to work in jeans and boots? Here are some of the benefits of adopting a casual approach.
Comfortable = Creative– We are pretty sure no one feels their most productive when they’re uncomfortable. It may seem a little far-fetched, but casual environments foster greater efficiency amongst your employees. When they’re focused more on their work and less on when to schedule their dry cleaning pick-up, you’ll definitely see an uptick in productivity.
Attract More Employees – By encouraging your office to dress casually, your business will seem very attractive to potential employees. Casual dressing encourages a welcoming atmosphere (read – less stuffy), which is definitely a plus when you’re looking to add some new hires. Small businesses who offer a more relaxed dress code are appealing to good talent…especially the kind who has recently graduated from college!
Express Yourself – This may apply to a more creative environment, but we’d say that most employees enjoy dressing in a way that allows them to express their individual sense of style. Consequently, this can lead to a higher employee retention rate. Think about it like this – would you rather face every morning by dressing in an outfit you dread, or start your day by dressing something you actually like?
Keep it Casual, Not Classless
If you’ve decided to implement the casual dress code in your office, keep in mind that the term “casual” can have translate differently among your employees. While most people would probably show up to work in nice jeans and a sweater, there’s always the person that thinks it’s fine to wear gym clothes all day long. That’s why it’s best to provide your employees with a list of guidelines that you find appropriate or distasteful. Here are some basic items you may want to consider:
- No dirty, torn, or fraying clothes.
- Don’t show too much skin.
- The clothes you would wear to the gym should not be the clothes you wear to work
- Dress appropriately for your agenda (for example, you would probably want to go business casual if you have a formal meeting with a current or potential client. If you are going to your client’s office for a meeting, always wear something that would be found suitable in their office environment).
- Dress in something that suits your personality, but not something that you’d be embarrassed to wear if a client were to pop in for a surprise visit.
- Remember that you represent your place of employment – so take pride in what you wear!