What you wear can affect how you feel, how you work and how you come across to others. A lot of the time, many companies put uniforms or dress codes in place, in which the restrictions of and reasons vary between industries. Reasons for dress codes could be to make employees identifiable to clients/customers, promote a certain image of a company, or be put in place for health and safety reasons.

In offices, many companies choose to put an ‘office-wear’ dress-code in place, to promote the well-recognised professional corporate image. Tailored trouser suits, skirt suits, shirts and ties and smart shoes are often found in ‘workwear’ sections in clothes shops, a lot of the time in neutral blacks, greys, whites and navy’s - all in conventional ‘smart’ styles, shapes and fabrics.

Where dress codes are put in place, the company must conform to the Equality Act 2010, in which the dress code must not be discriminatory in respect age, disability, gender reassignment, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.

Is a dress code necessary?

Some companies allow casual dress, where there’s rarely a pencil skirt or blazer in sight. A benefit of not having a dress code is that it gives staff freedom. Similar to the school uniform debate, self-expression is important and it’s argued people – school children or office workers – should be allowed to wear what they like instead of conforming to a code.

Allowing employees to wear anything they like may be more common in smaller companies, or ones which are in certain industries - like fashion or the arts - where self-expression and image are at the forefront of their business and encouraged. However large corporate companies like law firms, for example, are unlikely to be taken seriously if they turn up to meet a client in jeans and a t-shirt, or flouncy trendy summer dress.

If a company allows casual dress, that freedom to dress for comfort may make employees happier, as opposed to restrictive conventional work-wear which some individuals may not feel comfortable or confident wearing. Dressing how you want may make you feel more relaxed, happy and willing to work. 

Of course, there will still be obvious restrictions and outlines to casual dress; it’s a given that you can’t turn up in your dressing gown and slippers unless it’s some kind of dedicated charity fancy-dress day, but a lot of this comes from common sense and general work etiquette.

Benefits of smart-dress in an office

When you’re dressed smart, you tend to hold yourself better, whether you’re conscious of it or not. While some may not feel comfortable in a suit and tie, others may thrive from feeling ‘put together’, the smart image they portray giving them more confidence than ever. This confidence is likely to translate in their work, and therefore boost productivity.

Looking professional is another given - where first impressions really count. But again, it is down to the industry you’re working in, and how often you come into contact with clients or customers. An office may not have a dress code day-to-day, but require employees to dress smart when going on client visits or dedicated meetings, so it can vary.

Having a dress code may eliminate any potential confusion in a workplace. If a standard is set in place, no-one may feel under, or over-dressed, making the decision of what to wear in the morning stress-free and easy.

To conclude, it really does depend on the size and type of your company, and the image they wish to portray and to what level. While a smart office dress-code can be beneficial, freedom and being able interpret a dress-code for personal preference is becoming more and more popular. As long as the employees within a company are at a consensus with dress code (or lack of), and are generally comfortable with what’s in place, the productivity of the company will be at its best.

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry, with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.

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