Are your dress standards fitting or failing?

If you don’t have a uniform, do you have the right to insist on dress standards?  Is the news somehow less “news” when Fiona Bruce reads it in her trainers?  What do your customers expect your dress standards to be?


My own dress standards

I was brainwashed into wearing a suit back in the 1980s. Back then, as an HR administrator, I wasn’t as concerned by dress standards – as long as my clothes were clean and smart. My HR Director told me otherwise. She said that if I wanted to be treated as a manager, I needed to wear a suit.

You might think that’s shallow but it does have an effect.  One day recently I walked into a shop wearing a suit, the next day in jeans.  Same shop.  Same assistant.  Same size queue.  One day they apologised profusely for keeping me waiting. The next, no comment made.  Have a guess which day I wore the suit.

No matter how we like to think differently, dress standards matter.


How do you set your Company’s dress standards?

Nicola Thorp was sent home from work, unpaid, because she refused to wear high heels at work. Her online petition to make it illegal for Companies to require women to wear high heels at work has over 141,000 signatures.   Your policy should be easy to understand, reasonable to obtain and afford, as well as practical to wear.  Employees will be much more likely to comply.  You should also think about the following:


  • You can insist on different clothing for men and women, as long as it is of equal smartness.
  • Health and safety are important.  High heels may look good but in many situations, they are plain dangerous.  Think too about flowing fabric near machinery.
  • Take into account religious beliefs.
  • If you supply uniform, make sure you can obtain it in a variety of sizes and for pregnant employees.
  • Any offensive tattoos should be covered up.  You can require employees to cover visible tattoos were possible.
  • Consider comfort during hot or cold spells.  What is practical if they are working outside?
  • You may need to restrict jewellery for food hygiene or health and safety reasons.

Make your employees aware of your dress standards are and what will happen if they breach them.  Always offer them a reasonable opportunity to address it before taking disciplinary action.


If you would like any help in setting your dress standards, please contact me.



Categories Communication, Discrimination, Health and Safety, Staff Performance, Uncategorized