If you’re telling new hires that your dress policy is business casual, they’ll probably do three things before they show up for work the next day. They are:
- Google “business casual”
- After reading confusing and contradictory advice online, they’ll call a friend to ask “Hey Mike, what the heck is business casual?”, and
- Overdress for their first day of work (and for a few days thereafter until they pick up on what your version of business casual really is).
This is problematic, as it’s not great for onboarding. After all, you want employees to arrive on their first day confident and comfortable so they can focus on training and/or work.
A good definition of business casual
We suggest that you use your company’s dress code to outline in concrete detail what your version of business casual is. J.P. Morgan’s policy is a good example of how much detail to include. A policy should include guidance described in language that all is universal to all genders and backgrounds. Especially on the topic of shoes, hair, and modesty.
- Formal business attire (After all, it’s almost always OK to overdress.)
- Casual pants such as khakis, chinos, or (sometimes) “dressy” denim
- Capri pants, dresses and long skirts
- Collared shirts, polo shirts, sweaters and blouses that cover the shoulders
- Dress shoes and sandals
- Minimal, tasteful jewelry and fragrances
- Casual denim or shorts (unless approved by your manager)
- Sneakers or athletic clothing — i.e. sweatshirts, T-shirts, sweatpants, and leggings
- Beachwear, halter tops, tank tops or crop tops
- Flip-flops, clogs, floaters, rubber-soled sandals, slides, or slippers
- Hats and hoods
- Visible undergarments
- Torn or frayed clothes
- Messages or images that violate company policies on harassment, discrimination, or code of conduct
- Excessive use of fragrances
A policy like this leaves little doubt in a person’s mind about what “business casual” means.