Undressing the Dress Code Dilemma

Because small businesses offer a more intimate and flexible type of office environment, dress codes can vary greatly depending on both the office culture and your industry. While some may prefer a more traditional or formal style, depending on your business, office space, and relationships with clients many offices observe a more casual dress code. Either is workable and it really depends on preference, but there are a few things to keep in mind as a small business owner.


Make the policy clear- and official 

If you are comfortable having your employees dressed more casually at the office you still need to have a written, official policy to avoid misunderstandings. Your policy should dictate that while the office is not strictly formal, there is still clothing that is inappropriate in any professional setting and there may be events where the dress code requires more formality.

If your office requires a more hybrid policy, clear requirements are even more important. For instance, some small law firms do not require either staff or attorneys to wear formal business attire every day, but in the event of an important client meeting or, of course, court appearances it should be made clear that formal office attire is both expected and required. All new employees, regardless of rank or industry should be made to read, understand and agree to the dress policy, including any updates or changes to an existing policy.

Have a system in place for infractions

Your office dress code policy should be easily understood and have a clear outline of what will happen if an employee fails to uphold the office standards. There is nothing more uncomfortable for management in a small business than needing to address an employee’s dress code infractions, however, in the event an employee does break the dress code or continuously fails to follow it, having a clear dress code policy will make the conversation go much more smoothly and hopefully avoid future problems.


As a small business owner, you have a great deal of influence over the kind of office culture you create, but in order to protect yourself from office disputes and just as importantly, to protect the image you want your business to present, make sure you give every employee and written and unambiguous dress code.

Bergmann & Good can help you craft an appropriate and enforceable dress code policy for your office.  Give us a call if you would like to discuss your small business needs.