Does your dress code change for the summer? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Does your dress code change for the summer?

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in The HR Specialist Forum

We're a fairly buttoned-down company. Now that the weather is finally warming up, several employees have been agitating for a less formal summer dress code. I think our biggest obstacle will be some of the senior executives. Can anyone suggest dress code policy language that will reassure them staff won't look like they just wandered in from doing yard work?—James, PA

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa May 29, 2009 at 7:39 pm

I work at a credit union, which is still fairly conservative when it comes to dress guidelines. Our dress guidelines have loosened up over the years (men no longer have to wear ties, but wear dress shirts or nice polo shirts with nice slacks) — I guess you’d call it “nicer business casual.” It’s never okay to wear jeans, capris, really casual sandals (like flip flops), shorts, mini-skirts. It’s never okay for women to show bare midriffs. And women are required to wear some kind of hosiery from October through April – no bare legs that time of year.

In the summer, we do loosen up the guidelines a bit. From May 1 through September 30, women can go bare-legged (yay!) when wearing longer skirts (knee-length or longer). Women can also wear sleeveless tops in the summer (not casual tank tops, but NICE sleeveless tops).


Sally Barrette May 29, 2009 at 11:07 am

Protocols always seem to hinge on the words “common sense.” With the advent of warm weather comes a desire for what I call “foot freedom” along with the Three B’s. I think everything hinges on personal best – appropriate clothing and jewelry, nice shoes/sandals and clean feet! I’m not against comfort, but most offices/building sites have some degree of air conditioning, so the body parts displays should be curtailed. Since my company is in a public building, I see all stages of undress in the public areas. Our company says comfort, but classy comfort, even on “free Fridays.”


Deb May 29, 2009 at 8:26 am

I work at a small manufacturing facility. We wear business casual year round in the office areas. Production, Service, shipping and inventory areas are permitted to wear jeans all year round. The rest of us are permitted to wear jeans on Fridays. In the summer, we promote a fundraiser. For a donation to a company specified charity, employees can wear shorts or jeans (all clothing must be appropriate for an office setting or the employee will be sent home to change) all summer long (approx. 3 months). We have done this for three years now without problems and the employees really like it. In addition, we give back to our community.


LaToya M. Davidson April 22, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Our organization, although we’re a small public library system, has a standard dress code that doesn’t change when the weather changes. Additionally we have ‘uniforms’ (work shirts and pullovers) that we are all required to wear. So not only is there not a question of whether or not an outfit is questionable, we also all look relatively professional and cohesive. I realize and appreciate that organizations can be more strict or very casual but we like the middle ground. We have a basic dress code policy and have even jokingly referred to a website that posts a dress code using cartoon characters to make the point. Do a Google search for “Company Dress Code Explained” and you’ll find it. I realize that in some climates it really is necessary to have a dress code that takes the weather into account, however, I like the ones where it’s a common sense thing.


Kristin April 22, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Our company is a small office staff of about 25. We don’t necessarily have a dress code policy but a “personal appearance” policy. Within that policy we state that “the Company expects employees to maintain a neat, well groomed appearance at all times. Employees should avoid extremes in dress. Employees who fail to maintain a neat, well groomed appearance will be sent home to correct their appearance…”

Additionally, we have a couple unwritten rules….dress for your day. If I’m working in the file room, I might wear jeans, if I have a meeting, I dress appropraitely.

I am also very open about my three B rules…whether I heard it or read it or dreamed it up, people know it. No butts, boobs or bellies. This takes care of the majority if workplace wardrobe malfunctions and summer issues and I will let people know if there attire is not appropriate (and expect the same).

Once it’s warm in Houston, my legs are bare most days. I wear skirts, dresses and knee length dress shorts, anything to beat the heat when I leave the office. I think this ability affects my professional attitude; focusing on “everyone being professionals” has accomplished our employees dressing appropriately and seasonally…it’s not for everyone though.


Monica April 21, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Our dress code doesn’t necessarily change for the summer. We have a standard dress code which addresses what might come up in summer attire as inappropriate. We work with a close knit and mature group and things which are inappropriate are handled on a one on one basis and it is very rare that it is needed.


Kathleen April 21, 2009 at 4:32 pm

We’re a pretty casual bunch so seasonal changes don’t affect us much. Our guest services associates can wear shorts, but there are guidelines. They still have to wear the company-logo polo shirt. Because of the nature of their work, our aquarists can wear shorts and company-logo tee shirts as long as they are not working in a public area of the aquarium.


Carole April 21, 2009 at 4:14 pm

May through August, the men are allowed to wear polo shirts with collars and khaki pants, instead of suits. Every Friday we have casual day where both the men and women can wear shirts with the company’s logo and khaki pants. This seems to satisfy everyone and it looks nice too.


Dana April 21, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Our company puts out a reminder about the dress code in May. When the weather changes, staff seam to forget what the policy states.


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