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Designing Dress Code Policies

The rise of the Silicon Valley brought with it a change in the dress code of the workforce. The concept of “smart casuals” is the outcome of the changes brought by the rise in the information technology sector. What consists of “smart casuals” varies with the geographical, cultural and demographic factors. This calls for a general dress code policy for any enterprise.

Dressing is important as it improves the confidence of the people. Drafting dress etiquette is by no means an easy job. The first thing that is to be observed is the general dressing code followed in the industry. The way of dressing changes with the profession. The dress code of a banker will be different to that of a doctor. Similarly, the cultural factors define the dress code of the people. For example, in India, formal or semi-formal sarees and churidars are more popular than formal suits amongst female employees.

Dress code also varies with the kind of business involved. Marketing calls for formal attire of excellent quality. Never comprise on the quality of the outfit as it exudes a negative impression. The role of the individual in the organization also determines the way one dresses. A senior executive might be required to wear formals on all days. However this varies with the general code followed in the industry. Geographical factors are another dress code determinant. People in the tropical climate prefer cotton shirts and trousers due to its comfort.

The dress code must be defined after taking into account the general needs of the employees. People in India generally prefer casuals to formal attire. People work best when they are not conscious of their looks. So to ensure better quality in the work, permit them to dress in the way they prefer. Company policies too state the way the employees should dress. For example, companies like Ernst and Young expect formal attire on all weekdays except Fridays which is the day for casuals. Such clear cut policies leave no room for confusions.

With the customers spread worldwide, the dress code followed by them must be honoured in their presence. The human resource department must be aware of the dressing etiquette followed in different countries. For example, a black tie is a sign of mourning in Japan. So wearing a black tie during a customer visit is highly inappropriate.

The company should keep the dress code open for changes. It must be flexible to adopt new ideas with the changing scenario. Besides the company, the individual must apply her intelligence while dressing for the office. The dress should always be neat and ironed free of creases. Torn or sand blown jeans, shorts, or mini skirts are highly improper for work. Though jeans are permitted in many companies in India, they should always be smart, and suited for the office. The shirts worn should never have derogatory or offensive words. Women should never go for dresses that are revealing. A smart dress must be backed by smart shoes. Dress and shoes must be complimentary to each other. The selection of the jewelry and perfumes also calls for great attention. Jewelry should be smart and suited to the attire. Perfumes and colognes should not be highly potent. . Companies like TCS show their respect for the right attire by providing discounts for the purchase of dress from its showrooms when an employee is appointed onsite.

Always dress to the occasion. Many international forums like IETF prefer casual attire to the formals. It is not possible to have a clear cut dress code. A general etiquette must be supported by reasonable acumen of the manpower. Anyone who breaks the general dress etiquette must be warned and the disciplinary action that will be followed on the disobedience of the same must be well informed.

The company as well as the employee plays an equal part in deciding the dress code. Diligence from both parties is inevitable to reflect a positive attitude.

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