“Aside from wearing the occasional Chicago Blackhawks jersey (especially on a long flight), I make a point of maintaining a professional appearance in public. That used to mean dark suits and long sleeves. Happily, corporate dress codes have changed in recent years.
Small business employees often expect a more relaxed policy that does not automatically fit when their companies are competing with larger companies. Establishing a dress code creates a quandary; formal attire may present a more professional appearance to customers, but employees may balk at spending money on expensive clothing or not being able to express themselves. To help you tread the line between fussy corporate and circus attire, here are six things to consider when formulating your dress code.
#1. Exposure to customers
Do customers regularly visit the workplace? If so, what do they expect to see? Store clerks, for example, may need to wear company shirts or vests for identification purposes, but not necessarily formal attire. Service companies that hold customer meetings in the office might look more professional if they wear more formal attire, but business casual may be enough.
Consider what customers wear when they see you, as well. If they come in for a meeting wearing shorts and T-shirts, a room full of three-piece suits can be overwhelming.
#2. Customer trust
Even banks and law firms have relaxed their dress codes to some degree, but any business that handles client money or important affairs needs to work harder to preserve customer trust. Personally, I would also think twice if I walked into a surgical center and saw my surgeon wearing a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops.
Trust relies on first impressions. If you think that your dress code might alienate clients, they may go elsewhere.”
Catherine Morgan is the editor of Business Unplugged ™, an engaging speaker, and the founder of Point A to Point B Transitions Inc., a virtual provider of coaching services to individuals who are in business or career transition. Catherine is the author of the eBook Re-Launch You: Discovering Your Point B and Embracing Possibility. An experienced independent consultant and former employee of three of the former Big Five consulting firms, Catherine combines strategy development with accountability coaching. Her productivity tips and career transition advice have been featured on WGN AM 720 and WIND AM 560 The Answer in Chicago, and on WCHE AM 1520 in the Philadelphia area. Catherine speaks frequently on topics related to productivity, career transition, small business, and entrepreneurship. She doesn’t take herself seriously, but takes her subject matter very seriously.