Dressing the part is important in many trades. It can help to build trust amongst clients, add a sense of brand identity and in some cases help to ensure the health and safety of your employees. If you’ve been thinking of introducing a dress code, here are some factors to consider.
Practicality should always come first when coming up with a dress code. In many jobs where you may prepare food or handle machinery, dangling sleeves and necklaces and ties might be inappropriate. An anti-jewellery policy may be required in many physical labour jobs where it could snag. You might also have to decide how people wear long hair and whether beards are acceptable.
Certain specific clothing has evolved over the years and become characteristic of certain jobs. For example, medical scrubs allow free movement whilst not having sleeves and being easy to clean. Mechanic overalls, meanwhile, can protect a person’s clothes beneath from grease whilst also providing warmth. It may be wise to stick to these dress codes as they serve good practical reasons and aren’t just a traditional case.
There’s also health and safety equipment to consider, such as hard hats and rubber gloves and ear protection. Many companies are required to supply this by law but may not make it part of a dress code. Consider whether you want to make this a part of the uniform. It could give you a better legal position if somebody chooses to not wear protective equipment and gets hurt.
Match the formality
Certain jobs come with a certain formality. This is usually to do with the nature of the job and the type of client. If you’re an investment banker, you’re handling large sums of money for people, and so a serious attire is required, such as a black suit. On the other hand, if you’re working in a nursery with children, casual and colourful clothing might be better suited. These are obvious examples, but there might be others where the formality isn’t so obvious.
For example, not all office jobs require a suit. In some heavily creative marketing jobs, a suit might seem too conservative and a smart-casual dress code might be better. With restaurants and shops meanwhile, the formality can vary wildly. A branded t-shirt might be okay in some casual restaurants, whilst a white shirt and tie might be better in other cases. Other places may meet somewhere in between.
Consider colour psychology
Colours can be important to consider, especially when implementing a uniform. You may want to match the colour to your existing brand. You may want a colour that hides stains. In other cases, you may want to consider colour psychology.
Different colours have been commonly accepted to have different connotations when worn. Black can symbolise authority, sombreness, or confidence, but it may seem a little gloomy in some trades. Red can be a powerful colour that symbolises energy, passion and urgency, but it can also threaten some situations.
Blue is a colour of calmness and credibility, whilst yellow can symbolise creativity and cheeriness. So look into this colour psychology before picking a hue to go with.
In many cases, it’s possible to tone a colour down by going for a lighter and more washed-out tone. For example, if your branding is red, but you don’t want to come across as too energetic, you might be able to choose a faded red colour rather than a bold scarlet or use a white uniform with red detail on it.
If you’re choosing a uniform, you may want to showcase your brand. This can be great for creating a sense of brand awareness. Find a way to implement your logo onto your uniform or keep it within your brand’s colour scheme. Remember that if you choose to update your branding, you may have to update your uniform. It’s possible to not have a full uniform and have a certain item branded such as an apron or a badge, or even a tie.
Be wary of the cost
A uniform costs money to design and order. Try not to choose anything too elaborate unless your business is making money to justify it. Standard dress codes allow your employees to choose from their wardrobe and so cost you nothing. Consider whether you need the extra overhead of a uniform or whether a looser dress code is better.
Take into account gender and religion
When introducing a dress code, it’s important to consider the individual beliefs of your employees. For example, some people may want to wear religious items such as headscarves, turbans, kara bracelets and crucifixes. Not allowing these items could get you into a legal battle, so try to cater for these religious items. When it comes to gender, you also don’t want to be accused of sexism.
There’s a backlash at the moment over forcing women to wear high heels given that they can be damaging to women’s health in the long run.
On top of this, you may have to cater for trans employees, who may identify as a certain gender and therefore want to wear that gender’s clothes. Again, consider all of this so that your uniform isn’t offensive to one particular group.
Get input from your employees
If you have existing employees, it’s important to let them have a say in the decision. After all, they will be the ones abiding by this dress code.
You should emphasise that a dress code isn’t a punishment – by taking away their ability to dress freely, some employees may view a dress code as negative. Be clear of the reasons you want to implement it. This could be to help improve your brand or protect their health and safety.