Why Your Professional Dress Code Might Want to Loosen Its Tie

Jade Hynes
February 17, 2023

In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards more casual and comfortable dress codes, driven by changes in workplace culture and a desire for greater flexibility and inclusivity.  Loosening the tie on your dress code creates a more relaxed and comfortable work environment which improves employee morale and increases productivity. By allowing employees to dress in a way that is comfortable and reflects their personal style, companies attract a more diverse range of candidates and better meet the needs of a changing workforce. In this blog, I’ll review the benefits of loosening your dress code requirements and the overall benefit to your business.

The Evolution of Dress Codes in the Modern Workplace

Dress codes have evolved over the years, becoming increasingly casual and relaxed depending on work requirements.  In the past, strict dress codes were the standard.  Employees were expected to wear business attire, such as suits, collared shirts, and high-heeled shoes as a sign of professionalism and respect for the workplace.  However, as the workforce has become more diverse,  attitudes toward dress codes have shifted, and many companies have adopted more relaxed policies. This has allowed employees to express their personal style and has made office settings more comfortable and inclusive environments.

The rise of remote and hybrid work has further influenced the evolution of dress codes.  With many employees now working from home, the need for formal attire has dwindled.  This shift has also allowed companies to embrace a more casual dress code for hybrid work environments, recognizing that professional attire is no longer a necessity. 

Benefits of a More Relaxed Dress Code 

There is an abundance of benefits to enforcing a more relaxed dress code. Below we will highlight four of them. 

Benefit #1: Promotes Diversity and Inclusivity

A relaxed dress code promotes diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. Old dress codes were constructed with a gender-normative outlook.  Business leaders may reconsider this approach because they are outdated norms for how people present themselves.  Based on how people choose to express themselves in how they dress, policies such as requiring a woman to wear a skirt and pantyhose are dated.  By removing conventional requirements, employees of different cultures, backgrounds, gender identities, and personal styles feel more comfortable and accepted in the workplace. This sparks greater collaboration and teamwork, as employees feel more connected and engaged with their colleagues, because they are more genuine in their self-expression.  A relaxed dress code reduces the financial burden on employees since they don’t feel obligated to purchase expensive business or formal attire, allowing for a more equitable work environment.

Benefit #2:  Increased Comfort and Flexibility

Traditional professional attire is often restrictive and uncomfortable, especially when worn for long periods of time.  Allowing employees to wear more casual clothing, such as sneakers or jeans, leads to a more positive work environment. They feel permitted to be themselves at work.  When Employees feel more comfortable and more like themselves,  they are more motivated to work.  

Benefit #3: Boosts Creativity and Innovation

A more relaxed dress code leads to a more productive and innovative work environment. When employees don’t need to focus on their appearance fitting within strict guidelines, they feel comfortable and confident.  Confident employees are more likely to feel supported at work, so they think outside the box, try new things, and dedicate more attention to their work.

Benefit #4:  Attracting and Retaining Talent

A more relaxed dress code can make a company more attractive to younger generations who prioritize a work-life balance and a more casual approach to dress. It’s important to strike a balance between a relaxed dress code and maintaining a professional image, but a less rigid dress code appeals to a new generation of workers, who want to be evaluated on their skill, not what type of shirt they wear.

Addressing Concerns About Professionalism and Client Perception

As a business owner, you may have concerns about implementing a more relaxed dress code. If you believe it will negatively impact how clients perceive your company’s professionalism and client perception, remember they are determined by a variety of factors, not just your dress code. A relaxed dress code can be professional and convey the desired image to clients, as long as employees dress with respect for the work they do.  As a business owner, you can clearly communicate the expectations of the dress code to your employees, so they understand your company’s definition of professionalism and dress code expectations. Ultimately, a relaxed dress code leads to increased comfort, creativity, and talent retention in the workplace, while still maintaining professionalism.

Looking to Implement a More Relaxed Dress Code? 

Do you want to take a more progressive approach to workplace policies, including your dress code policy? Red Clover has experience helping businesses create policies to retain and attract talent while still protecting their professional identity.  Contact us to get the conversation started.

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