With the relaxing of rules surrounding what and what not to wear to work, it is any wonder that people are questioning whether there are in fact, advantages for adopting a dress code for the office at all.
A report out last week on the new dress code filtering through Wall Street suggests that the tie is on the way out, and even jeans and sneakers are allowed.
Having spent my whole career dressing for success and educating others how to do the same, I find this an interesting phenomena and trend.
I call it a trend, because we don’t know for sure if it is going to last, however, I do see the trend emerging for more flexibility in how dress codes are applied.
I certainly feel that there are clear advantages to adopting some form of corporate dress code policy even if the standards are being lowered a little to be more causal. Let me explain.
- First Impressions are so important
What you wear can have powerful effects on how other people feel, think and behave towards you. It goes without saying then that you become what you wear and it can also be your visual resume. If you want others to like you trust you and do business with you, best to create the right first impression from the outset. A dress code policy spells out what’s expected of you to create powerful first impressions for your role and the company you work for.
Different industries have different identities, and as consumers we learn to expect different codes of conduct, communication styles and acceptable forms of dress from individuals who work in those industries. It allows us to feel comfortable with whom we are doing business. A dress code policy can help individuals leave lasting impressions too that help build a solid reputation.
For example, we expect lawyers to dress in dark suits, advertising executives to dress more casually, a nurse to dress in appropriate healthcare uniform, and our dentist to be wearing a white tunic.
When there are variances to normal anticipated and expected dress codes your clients could feel somewhat nervous and cautious meaning it could take more time to build trust and rapport.Dressing appropriately can expedite the relationship you are seeking to create, which can significantly impact your bottom line results.
The dress code changes on Wall Street, in what is traditionally a professional and conservative industry is interesting. Removing a tie can open the way to easier conversation, but I am not sure how I would feel about going in to apply for a loan from a banker who was wearing jeans and sneakers. I would be questioning whether he was serious, and properly qualified.
We all want to feel valued and know that people you meet and do business with have considered how to dress for the occasion; based on the relationship they have with you, where you are meeting and what the purpose of the meeting is. It’s just common etiquette. Everyone you meet should feel like you value and respect their time and reason for meeting.
- Equality and inclusiveness
A corporate dress code policy eliminates competition amongst coworkers for who’s wearing the best fashion trends, keeps business as business and ensures that the integrity of your corporate brand is maintained. Having an acceptable, non discriminatory dress code policy that outlines what’s expected of everyone in in relation to appearance promotes equality and feelings of inclusiveness.
There is nothing worse than an office whose workers are more focused on what they wear to work than the job at hand.
- Brand recognition
Probably more for a company that adopts a uniformed approach, but even without a uniform, a dress code policy can truly allow your staff to know and appreciate how to dress to reflect the corporate brand, and its values.
PwC has the right attitude, having recently relaxed their dress code policy but with guidelines for their staff to ‘dress in a way that is respectful to the company client and colleagues, and is safe and appropriate for the environment they are in.’
Many might argue that having to follow a corporate dress code restricts their ability to express their personality and sense of style, and inhibits their creativity and ability to communicate.
There are so many choices available to dress well and achieve your personal and professional goals even within a formal dress code policy framework.
My answer is to seek out and explore the benefits of working with a properly trained image consultant who can guide you to understand how to dress to make the most of your personal attributes and create a truly professional look that cultivates success.
Its not that hard and the results might surprise you!