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How Company Dress Codes Impact Professionalism and Productivity

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Having a dress code in the office is quite common. Yet, some say that nowadays they’re not followed as strictly as in past decades. The question is, which is worse: wrong attire or pigeonholing?

According to an article written by Katie Lorenz, editor of, there are 15 “no-nos” when it comes to work attire. And though much of her advice seems relatively obvious for particular occupations, it’s not to say that her guidelines apply to every person in every profession.

To better explain this idea, let’s discuss some examples:

2. Workout gear. Save your muscle shirts and spandex for the gym.

This attire may not be suitable for a business professional, but it may be a key factor in professions such as personal training, athletics and coaching. After all, just as lawyers are expected to appear in court neatly dressed, athletes are expected to wear clothing that accommodates their rigorous work out and enhances performance.

4. Shorts. Whether of the Bermuda or Daisy Duke variety, wearing shorts to work is just plain wrong.

Though it may be obvious that this “no-no” applies to anyone in a business setting, it certainly should not encapsulate all businesses. According to Matt Lee, a senior transportation representative and carrier supervisor for a Fortune 500 company, shorts are the dominant office attire in the summer; “we spend all day speaking to clients on the phone, so there’s no need to wear formal, uncomfortable clothes. If, on the off chance, a client visits our office, we simply dress for the occasion.”

5. Tattoos. Celebrities like Angelina Jolie have made tattoos seem almost mainstream, but many people are still put off by them. Best to keep yours under wraps or disguised with a heavy spray-on makeup made expressly to conceal tattoos.

6. Extreme hair color. Natural looking highlights are fine, but never dye your hair blue, magenta or other colors not found in nature.

9. Grungy beards. In general, most companies prefer clean-shaven men to, say, ZZ Top. If you just can’t part with your facial hair, at least keep it neatly trimmed. (And for gosh-sakes check in the mirror after eating that powder-sugared doughnut!)

13. Body piercings. Studies show that most people view body jewelry as unprofessional and that people with multiple piercings are less likely to be hired or promoted.

Just as a barber sports a clean haircut to better market his work to clients, so must alternative stylists and tattoo artists. There’s a heavy metal-themed burger bar in Chicago that wouldn’t be the same if the majority of  waiters didn’t have huge beards. In the simplest terms, showcasing your talents through the best means possible is important for your target audience.

15. Low-rise pants. “Plumber’s crack” is not acceptable anywhere. Period. Finally, as a rule of thumb: If you have any doubt whether something you have on is appropriate — go back and change.

We may be able to come up with exceptions for most of the list, but she hit the nail on the head right here. There’s no defending this one. Even as a plumber, it’s not a bad idea to wear a belt!

business consultants dress codes

© Flickr user PinkMoose

As seen above, it stands to reason that formulating strict guidelines that every professional should follow is not just difficult, but unreasonable. In today’s society we recognize that actions taken to improve worker productivity, tasks performed, and even appearances are strategic in nature. Whether it be dress codes, computer programs, or processes, don’t allow societal norms to totally dictate your business. Instead, do what works best for you and your company’s success.

For more information on focusing on results instead of policies, contact our productivity consultants today!

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