What to wear?

Two years ago, when COVID-19 hit, business attire went out the window. For many when working from home, it was dress for the screen (business wear up top and casual wear down below) which then became more casual the longer we endured hard lockdowns. Comfort became the main focus.

With more businesses now back in offices or hybrid arrangements, it’s hard not to notice the shift in business attire to a more casual approach. Many are wanting to continue with the comfort factor when it comes to what they wear and corporate business attire trends are changing. Just last night I received an email from a brand that I shop with regularly whose tag line was “Polished yet Practical: Effortless day pieces that will easily take you straight from work to your weekend escape” Fashion trends are driving change based on what consumers want and more are considering opting for pieces that will offer versatility across both work and play.

But what is considered business casual? And what if business casual becomes too casual? It really can be open to individual interpretation! Depending on your industry and business, different dress code rules may apply. If your business doesn’t have a formalised dress code or you’re considering reassessing your dress code, here are some things to consider:

Align to your culture
Before you set out, it’s important to consider how your dress code fits with your culture and what your objective is. Is it consistent with your values and brand? If there is a disconnect, perhaps consider how you and your team’s presentation can be adjusted to represent your brand better. Maintaining your professional image can still be achieved with a relaxed dress code. It can also show that you’re willing to adapt, embrace change and move with the times rather than being set in your ways. If your clients dress codes are changing too, it’s important that you remain relatable to them and dress appropriately to demonstrate you understand their workplace and business.

Dress for your day
Many companies are now opting for a “Dress for your Day” policy. This allows employees to choose their work attire based on what work they are doing for that day. If you have a client meeting, you may choose to dress up or in accordance with the clients’ dress code. If there are no meetings or appointments, casual business attire may be more appropriate. By giving employees the option, you are empowering them to make their own choices as to what is appropriate for their day and allow them to work comfortably. It can also increase your employee engagement * and the connection your employees will feel by being valued and trusted in their decision making. But what about last minute changes to your schedule? Perhaps consider having that spare pair of shoes or blazer at work (or in your car) to cope with any changes where you may feel underdressed.

Consult your team
If you are changing your dress code policy or introducing one, it’s important to consult your team and discuss your policy looks like on a day-to-day basis. Share with your team examples of what is deemed appropriate attire as well as what isn’t appropriate for the office. Don’t forget the details! For example, some companies allow denim on Fridays. Be specific on what that means – is it jeans? A jacket? Does it include distressed denim, blue/black? As you can see, the options are endless so be as specific as you can!

Educate your clients
If you make significant changes to your current dress code policy or are implementing a new policy altogether, be sure to share this news with your clients and those external to your business. It’s a great way for them to get to know your business better and the changes you are making and to also prepare for future meetings with you. You may find that this opens conversation about their own dress code and any changes they’ve made recently too.

If your company has implemented a dress code policy or revised an existing policy, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you did this successfully and what the benefits have been by doing so. Feel free to share your feedback in the comments section below.

* For further information on employee engagement, check out Ange’s blog from last week

Megan Vila Pouca has over 15 years’ experience in the recruitment industry and is Inspire HQ’s Head of Recruitment. Megan has a personalised approach to partnering with businesses she recruits for; knowing and understanding the business and the culture is critical for her. Not only does this ensure Megan recruits the best of the best for her clients but it also ensures her clients are able to retain the best talent.  Passionate about assisting others and understanding people’s genuine motivations and what gives them job satisfaction is what drives Megan. She loves being able to assist people in taking that next step in their career and coaching and mentoring them on that journey. Building strong relationships is what Megan is all about.

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