Creative LeadershipEngaging CultureStrategy & Marketing

Are Dress Codes a Positive or Negative Influence for Your Team?

Back in the day, I grew up in a world of dress codes. At one time, universities had them, high schools had them, and many offices had them. But at some point, America became much more casual, and for most organizations, dress codes became a thing of the past. Today, dress codes are most prevalent on Wall Street or with legal firms. Certainly I would support dress codes in certain situations (you don’t want your marketing director showing up in a Speedo) but the truth is the world has become more casual.

If you’re thinking about instituting a dress code (or currently have one), here’s a few questions I would ask:

 – Where are you drawing the line? In a world where billionaires wear blue jeans to the office, should we require coats and ties?  

 – What’s the point?  What are you trying to convey through a dress code?  Today, people look at the bottom line.  If your business, nonprofit, ministry or church is effective, who cares? Success is far more important than a tie.

 – Who are you trying to impress?  In the case of business, is it older investors? In the case of nonprofits, is it older donors? The fact is today, even people in their 80’s are the rock and roll generation who grew up listening to Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin.  Trust me – wearing a t-shirt and jeans won’t offend them.

I’m not against dress codes in all situations, but I do suggest you really think about it. Today we live in a more casual culture, and in many cases, dress codes only make you look out of date and irrelevant.

Think about it.

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  1. Okay, I do have to point out that your portrait on the same web page as this post shows you in a suit coat and white dress shirt… 🙂

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