Jennifer Howard

Article Summary:

Advice on setting and enforcing a dress code for business appropriate attire.

Appropriate Attire: Your Business Deserves a Dress Code

You just bought a new home and show up at the closing company's office to sign the paperwork and get your house keys. Walking in, you make a mental note of how nice and well-kept the outside of the building is; the windows are clean and the signage impressive. You proceed into the office and are greeted by a multi-pierced young woman wearing a pair of crop pants and a too-tight top that is advertising the rolls around her waist; her high-heeled sandals make an annoying "thwack, thwack" sound as she strides across the entryway. "Whoa," you think, "have I walked into the wrong office?" You have a strong desire to walk back outside and check the sign to make sure you're in the right place. Then your real estate agent walks in...

When I present this scenario to business owners, managers and others I meet, their knowing smile and head nodding tells me they know exactly what I am talking about. Either they have experienced this situation themselves, or worse yet, seen it happen in their own businesses.

What can be done? Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that most business owners are finally getting tired of the "express yourself" look their employees are sporting and are ready to make a change. The bad news: People are generally resistant to change, especially in this area, so it's going to take courage, effort and perseverance to achieve noticeable improvements.

If you are a business owner or manager, you may wonder how to initiate and sustain the necessary changes. Here are four great tips to get, and keep, the "Appropriate Attire" ball rolling:

1. Write a Dress Code
Believe it or not, many businesses fail to provide this simple guideline for their employees that can save future headaches.

2. Enforce The Dress Code
I often consult with businesses that have a dress code, but fail to impose it. They don't want to "step on any toes" or don't know how to approach employees on the subject. Remember, if one person dresses outside of the code, expect others to follow if there is no enforcement.

3. Set an Example
If you dress "creatively," expect the same from your employees. You lay down clear guidelines when you set the tone yourself.

4. Get Them When They're New
Now that you have a dress code, and are going to enforce it as well as set an example yourself, make sure that all new hires get the picture from the beginning. These fresh-faces are excited to be there and wanting to please. Your presentation of the Company Dress Code should get an enthusiastic (or at least an attentive) response.

It's your business – you are allowed to set the standards. Caution: If you are feeling generous and want to reward your staff with a "casual day" remember the following: "Give an inch and they'll take a mile." If you allow one tattoo or unusual piercing, expect to see eight more the next day.

Jennifer Howard is a professional image consultant and coach. Her business, Positive Image Solution, specializes in "First Impression Coaching" for businesses and individuals. For more information on writing and enforcing a dress code, email email Jennifer.

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