Dress Codes at Work

There’s been quite a few posts in the blogosphere recently about dress codes at work. Wayne Turmel kicked off this discussion with his post titled “Wearing my big-boy clothes” which was very quickly followed up my many other bloggers that were defending the ‘dress code’ or railing against it.

A few other more interesting posts were from The Mad Gringo titled “Cranky Middle Manager Loosens Up“. Lisa Haneberg over at Management Craft followed up with a topical blog post titled “Dress Code Part 2” and now The Slacker Manager has a post titled “What’s Your Management Dress Code?” authored by Phil Gerbyshak.

All of these posts are worth the read and quite entertaining and thought provoking. However, the one that I like the most and agree with entirely, is Lisa Haneberg’s “Dress Code Part 2” post. In the post, she says:

Let people be comfortable. Create a culture where thoughts, not labels, impress.

Perfect Lisa. Absolutely perfect.

Of course, there are reasons to implement a dress code, but I believe that most adults can determine what is appropriate to wear to work and what isn’t. Why not build your culture in such a way that allows your team to determine how they should dress and act?

I’ve worked for companies who had no dress code and companies that had a very formal suit & tie dress code and found that it isn’t the dress code that makes an organization succeed…its the people and the culture that make the organization succeed.

[tags] Dress Codes [/tags]

8 responses to “Dress Codes at Work”

  1. Wayne Turmel Avatar

    Eric, thanks for posting on this little tempest in a teapot I stirred up. I agree with pretty much everything you said… unfortunately, just as a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, i’m afraid that my faith in peoples’ abilities to make the smart, professional decision is under fire daily. Since I’m one of those folks, I’m using an artificial reinforcement (the dress code) to keep my keister in line. Yeah, maybe I’m a tad pathetic, but I know my limits. I aspire to full adulthood when once again i can be left to my better judgment. A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for.

    By the way, you can hear The Cranky Middle Manager Show with people way smarter than me at http://cmm.thepodcastnetwork.com

    Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

  2. Eric Brown Avatar

    Wayne – Thanks for the comment.

    Knowing your limits is a good thing…I wish more people knew theirs.

    I loved your original post BTW…I wish I had the strength to make myself wear a tie even when I don’t “need” to…but I find myself much happier and content in my jeans.

    But…maybe that contentment isn’t a good thing. 🙂

    Thanks for the link to your podcast…I will definitely check it out.

  3. Mad Gringo Avatar

    Good stuff.

    Results matter. The problem is agreeing on what those results should be.

    So – I’ll just wear a nice tropical shirt until the big bosses decide where they want to go.

  4. Eric Brown Avatar

    Thanks for the comment Mad Gringo.

    Results are what matter.

    I wish I could join you in wearing a tropical shirt…but I am currently bound by a dress code at my current client (tie must be worn every day).

  5. Lisa Haneberg Avatar

    It’s interesting to everyone’s view on this. Sure, we look fine when we dress in our best threads, but is that what’s most important?

    I like your suggestion to involve employees in the conversation.

    How about we go with everyone wearing the white robes they wear in the movie “defending your life.” I love that movie.

  6. Phil Gerbyshak Avatar

    Eric, you said: “I believe that most adults can determine what is appropriate to wear to work and what isn’t. Why not build your culture in such a way that allows your team to determine how they should dress and act?”

    Great idea…if you’re starting your own company. Unfortunately in the corporate world, where managers inherit teams and culture, the dress code is one way to see who is willing to at least play by the rules, stupid as they may be.

    When I start my own company, I may well allow folks to where what they want. For now, as a manager in corporate America, I’ll enforce what I’ve got, and promote those who stand out in their excellence, not in their mediocrity.

    I remember a great quote (not sure who said it) that reminds me of how I personally behave: Dress for the job you WANT, not the one you’ve GOT!

  7. Eric Brown Avatar

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

    Phil – I understand where you are coming from. The current project I’m on requires a tie everyday…so I wear a tie (somewhat reluctantly) and follow the dress code. The organization is a very formal, hierarchical one and the tie fits in perfectly with the culture.

    Lisa – White robes it is. 🙂

  8. Phil Gerbyshak Avatar

    White robes huh? Interesting…Not sure how that fits into a casual Friday scheme…Very interesting.