Dress codes in business – what’s the best approach? 

With office life back following the work-from-home days of COVID-19, the question of the best business attire is returning to the fore. Does your business go back to its traditional, business-casual or business-professional dress code? Do you lean into what people have gotten used to at home and introduce a casual dress code instead?  

How to approach office dress codes 

It might seem overly pedantic, but dress codes are actually an important thing to consider for businesses. A company dress code presents the business in a certain way to customers or clients visiting your premises, as well as to employees.  

As such, it’s worth putting some time into thinking about your dress code to ensure it conveys the message you want it to and fosters an appropriate working environment. Do you have a uniform or items of clothing that you can brand with your logo to spread brand awareness and unity between employees? Does your industry call for formal attire, or is your office a laid-back environment that would work better with casual dress?  

Once you have decided, make sure all of your employees know and understand the dress code. Unclarity can lead to confusion and inconsistencies, especially when returning from working at home.  

Which dress code is best? 

The best dress code depends on the business, its office environment and its ethos, but there is some research out there that can help your decision.  

Research indicates that wearing baggy clothing while working at home has a surprising number of benefits for well-being because the skin is able to breath more, reducing stress. Further researcher has found that wearing casual clothes has helped employees to feel authentic while working, increasing feelings of power.  

This, in turn, can improve productivity and confidence.  

So, it appears that a casual dress code (or no dress code at all) could be beneficial. Employees may feel more relaxed and comfortable at work if they have the freedom to choose an outfit that they like. Although, it has been argued that they can make an office appear unprofessional to outsiders and there is an increased risk of employees wearing inappropriate clothing. For this reason, a business-casual or smart-casual approach may work better. It allows for flexibility while still maintaining a polished appearance.