Your employees are the face that your company shows to the public. Your staff members are expected to present a businesslike, professional appearance to your clients and customers as well as to visitors. As an employer, you can require your employees to follow a dress code that embodies the image you wish to portray.


The human resources department of your company should develop a policy for dress codes and appropriate workplace attire. The policy and guidelines should be posted in a conspicuous place, and copies should be distributed to new hires. The dress code should be appropriate to your particularly industry, and it can be as general or as specific as you see fit. You might wish to invite input from staff members. You can also decide whether such items as body piercings and tattoos should be addressed.

Business Attire

If you wish your employees to dress in business attire, your company’s guidelines should specify what is meant. Typically, business attire for men would include suit and tie or sport coat with dress trousers while women could be appropriately dressed in pantsuits, tailored dresses, and separates with conservative shoes.

Safety and Practicality

Depending on the nature of your business, some of your employees may be required to wear uniforms or other protective outfits. Clothing that is so tight that it restricts movement or so loose that it can catch on machinery should be prohibited. In the event of unusually hot or cold weather, employees may be allowed to dress more casually than usual, but they should still be required to be neat and not dress in a manner that is too revealing or otherwise inappropriate.

Religious Practices

The dress code should clarify that your company will accommodate the preferences of any employee whose religious beliefs require a certain form of dress. While you can set up your dress code to apply to all employees, that code must not prohibit ethnic dress preferred by some because of their national origin or religion. You might prohibit baseball caps in the office, but you cannot prohibit headgear worn by certain religious groups. Under federal law, if an employee requests an exemption from the dress code because it conflicts with her religious practices, the employer must allow that exception. Such an exemption must also be granted if the dress code is a hardship for a disabled employee.

Casual Days

The practice of “casual Fridays” or other days in the workplace allows for less formal clothing, but even those allowances should be governed by dress-code policy. For example, khakis and clean, properly fitting jeans can be allowed while sweat suits, leggings, shorts and low-rise jeans are not appropriate. Short-sleeved shirts are all right for men, but T-shirts, sweatshirts and shirts with slogans or other writing could be unacceptable. Women should avoid bare midriffs and other bare tops. Boat shoes are suitable, but sandals, sneakers and flip-flops are not.