Mike Michalowicz, small business columnist for the Wall Street Journal recently asked his blog readers to tell why they were for or against a dress code in the office. More than 90% were in favor of business attire, and this in spite of the fact that the majority indicated they were entrepreneurs who worked from a home office.
For example, home-based entrepreneur, Roxana Nunez, said, “It’s all about productivity. Even if you work from home and your staff works in your home office, you must have some rules on what is appropriate. Your staff is a direct reflection of your company and what you stand for.” Nunez says “comfort attire” slows productivity. University studies claim the same thing.
Numerous people agreed with personal growth coach, Judith Shapiro, who said, “Wow, did my attitude change! To have a higher standard of dress creates an attitude that says - I am working now. It changes the mindset. It creates better focus and higher expectations.”
Consultant David Zahn added “Too casual can lead to distractions, sloppiness in thought and behavior. Once there is more than one employee, there should be a decorum maintained.”
Here are other remarks:
• When your clients see that you take care in your dress and appearance, they are likely to trust that you will take care of them.
• Dressing like you are ready for daily business activities will change the attitude in the office.
• Not having a dress code in your company may show that you also do not have any direction or consistency in what you do.
• Having a code, whether detailed or generalized, removes risks for distraction and unnecessary friction that arises from “personal style” issues.
• I find that by looking the part, I feel more confident, have less price resistance, more acceptance of my ideas, and more immediate credibility as "the expert." I have observed that people are more serious about their jobs and duties if they are dressed right. Looking the part builds self-esteem and confidence!
• Dress as if you like yourself. One’s dress code should be non offensive to oneself and to others.
• Dressing nicely tells your customer that they are special and you want to be there for them.
• When you look good, you feel good!
• When you are dressed in a suit, your Game is On. You feel more professional. You use more professional language, are more courteous and take your work seriously.
One dissenter proclaimed, “You're likely to lose young talent as they rebel and move away if not allowed to express their youth as they give you their youthful energy.” Unfortunately, employees must please clients and not themselves. Other dissenters said that professional attire could stifle creativity and thought that dressing down increased creativity.
The truth is, when you feel good about yourself, you perform better – and that includes increased creativity. I’m sure all the entrepreneurs quoted above would include creativity as part of their skill set. The old axiom Dress to Impress should include not only clients but the person in the mirror when you leave the house each morning.
Sandy Dumont is an internationally-acclaimed speaker and author whose expertise is in the arena of corporate image. Get a free book, Tattletale Looks, at her website www.theimagearchitect.com.