Why do companies have dress codes

Dress codes in the company

“Clothes make the man”, “The first impression counts” - you've probably heard these sayings before. Such sentences are particularly present before a job interview or before the first day in a new company. After all, in some industries there are still strict dress codes that you as an employee must adhere to. It's about integrating yourself visually into the company, presenting yourself well with your clothing style and leaving a serious impression - on the executive floor as well as on the customer. But what significance do dress codes have when even banks are loosening the strict dress rules today? To put it another way: How up-to-date are dress codes in the world of work? Shouldn't the new guiding principle be “Never judge a book by its cover”?

The meaning and purpose of dress codes

People have been using clothing since ancient times To make differences clearly recognizable. For example between man and woman, but also between different social classes, because nobles and priests dressed differently from the common people. Was here depending on the profession the clothes predetermined.

Dress codes or dress codes still make sense today to visually distinguish different professional groups from one another, to separate them from one another and at the same time within the groups Sense of belonging and community to create.

This is particularly evident in the skilled trades. Has been around since the Middle Ages every guild traditionally their own color for their work clothes: painters, for example, wear white, gardeners and landscapers often wear green, and roofers and carpenters often wear their typical guild clothes. The work clothes in the trade are used for Unification and recognition as well as the security the employee.

There is still a dress code in many other industries:

  • Healthcare

  • Postal industry

  • gastronomy

  • Advertising and Marketing Industry

  • Commercial enterprise

  • Finance

In the meantime, however, we live in an increasingly open, globally oriented society that always more space for individuality and in which many different cultures meet. This begs the question of whether dress codes are still appropriate in professional life.

Different dress codes: what do you wear where?

When you start your professional life or change your job, you will usually see yourself during the interview, but at the latest when you sign the contract with the specific dress code of the company faced.

So that you from the beginning a good impression leaves behind and does not step into any fashionable faux pas, you should deal with the various dress codes in advance. It's about knowing the names for the different styles and knowing which clothing style is behind them.

  • Casual: Translated, casual means casual wear - but jogging pants are not one of them. A classic casual outfit is well-fitting, neutral jeans with a shirt or blouse. As far as your shoes go, they can be sneakers as long as they are clean, not too colorful and not too worn out. As a woman, you can wear jeans, fabric trousers, dresses or skirts, as well as sneakers or open-toe shoes.

  • Smart casual: You can see this dress code as an elegant extension of the casual look. You can choose from a combination of simple tops made of high-quality fabrics (e.g. cashmere or silk) and elegant items of clothing, such as a pencil skirt or trousers. Plain jeans are also suitable if you wear them with business clothing (e.g. a blazer).

  • Business casual: At internal meetings or on "Casual Friday" you can choose the more relaxed business casual look. Colored shirts, polo shirts or fine knitted sweaters, each with matching trousers, are suitable for men. As a woman, you can combine blouses, sweaters, skirts and cotton trousers as you like. Open shoes such as peep toes and sandals are also allowed.

  • Business Attire: This dress code is the upscale version of business casual. As a man, a suit with a tie and simple shoes is a must; subtle colors are allowed (black, gray, blue or brown). You wear a light, monochrome shirt under your suit. As a woman, you can dress with trousers combined with a blouse or a trouser suit. The shoes are subtle.

  • Business Formal: With business formal, it becomes even more formal. As a man, you should wear a two- or three-piece suit with a shirt, tie, and leather shoes. Muted colors, but also pinstripes, colored ties and shirts in pastel colors are permitted. As a woman, you are appropriately dressed in a fancy costume or a trouser suit with a blouse. The hem of your skirts and dresses should wrap around the knee, but never end above it. The outfit includes skin-colored tights and pumps with a small heel.

It is important that you never combine more than two patterns in business formal.

  • Semi Formal: The name of this dress code is deceptive, because it is by no means only "semi-formal". When this dress code is announced, it is about contacts with the executive suite or external customers. As a man you wear a dark suit with a shirt and tie, in the evening you may be expected to wear a tuxedo. As a woman, you can't go wrong with a suit, dress or pant suit - provided the hem of your dress or skirt is knee-length and the tights are opaque.

Formal wear makes you successful

The right clothing plays a significant role in professional success. If you are looking for a new job, you should find out beforehand which dress code is popular in the company of your choice. You appear dressed appropriately for the interview, you make a good impression straight away.

For the application and in the initial phase, despite the dress code, the motto is: Better to dress a little too chic so that you serious and respectful act, and then adjust the outfit to match what colleagues in the same position are wearing.

Scientific research has shown that employees who wear formal clothing more productive are than others. This is proven, among other things, by a series of studies from 2015 dealing with the cognitive effects of formal wear has dealt.

It shows that people who dress appropriately can concentrate better and think more abstractly and thus make smarter decisions - aspects that professional success are crucial. They also stand for salary negotiations Chances of success better if you wear formal clothes.

The style of clothing influences professional success in that it has a positive effect on your inner attitude and the way you work, because it shines Self-confidence and competence out. High-quality clothing at work conveys to your counterpart "I am here to actively contribute to the company's success".

This is how clothing influences the customer

The dress code not only has an effect on the employee, but also on the customer and the impression he gets in contact with you. In addition to smell and body language, your clothes play an important role in making the first impression: you get well dressed more attention - and this is a part of the customer conversation important factor for your sales success.

It is scientifically proven that humans within a few seconds decide whether or not you like your counterpart. The power of first impressions cannot be diminished. You can find more on this topic here.

Of course, a good style of clothing cannot compensate for a bad product or an unprofessional approach to the customer. Nevertheless, the feeling is conveyed that you as an employee work respectfully, professionally and seriously, that you are trustworthy and that the company pays attention to high quality. A good overall impression significantly upgrades the customer opinion.

Authenticity: New codes replace old ones

In many industries, the demands on the clothing style in the workplace were relaxed a few years ago. In the meantime, only a very small proportion of the population goes to work in suits and costumes. Most companies use the smart casual dress code instead, the lots of freedom and scope for interpretation leaves.

With less strict clothing guidelines, you can do your own Emphasize individual style more or deliberately play with style breaks between the given dress code and your casual clothing.

Some young companies and start-ups have a completely different culture - not only when it comes to clothing, but also when it comes to dealing with one another. Individuality is welcome and it is more important that everyone is at work feel good.

The representative thought then plays a rather subordinate role. Personal skills, abilities and competencies are not tied to external appearances - openness and flat hierarchies count instead.

Nowadays, sneakers are often part of the Everyday outfit at work. You can now combine them with almost anything - including a jacket or blazer. Sometimes you can handle a very specific brand make a statement and show awareness of trends.

Some brands also stand for a very specific image (such as sustainability) and can be quite appropriate take up the image of the company and reflect.

If you want to wear sneakers to the office or to a meeting, you should rather wear them plain, simple models to grab. So that the shoes do not miss their effect and your look one give it a casual touch, you need to take good care of them and brush them regularly.

More individuality in modern companies

A casual dress code affects the relationship between employee and customer as well as yours inner attitude out.

This results in advantages for both sides:

  • For you as an employee it means more individualitywhen you don't have to adhere to a dress code.

  • Not everyone who wears a formal outfit can do themselves automatically feel more confident and serious and transport that to the outside world.

  • Many come in formal outfits disguised and can do their job more convincingly if they are allowed to contribute their personal style.

  • The stronger individuality makes you shine more authenticity from acting more believable on the customer.

  • The formal distancethat a classic business outfit always brings with it is no longer available and that means for customers that they feel more comfortable.

Dress codes play this role in the individual industries

How strict the dress code is in a company depends primarily on the respective industry. While there is still a rather strict dress code in conservative, traditional industries, things are now a little more relaxed in many other industries.

  • Consulting: Consultants have a lot of customer contact and usually lead decisive sales talks. For this reason, there is still a strict business dress code standard here. As a man you wear a suit and tie, as a woman you should wear a classic trouser suit or costume.

  • Banking: A strict dress code is no longer necessarily the case in German banking. In the meantime, it is more a matter of making recommendations than making specific guidelines. It is only important that you as an employee give a serious and trustworthy impression with your clothing.

  • Legal activities: This industry is still very traditional when it comes to the dress code. Suit with tie or costume are a must for you in most legal professions.

  • PR, marketing, advertising: In these industries, clothing is more casual and a casual look is often sufficient. Here it is even welcome if you express your personality through clothing. When contacting customers, your outfit should be serious, suit or costume are appropriate here, although the cuts / variants may be more modern.

  • IT: In the IT industry, there is usually no specific dress code, at least for staff without customer contact. For all other employees, a look between casual and business casual is appropriate: as a man you should wear a shirt, as a woman you should wear a blouse with a blazer.

Conclusion: The overall impression is decisive

The dress code has long been in place in some industries not as strict as it was ten years ago. Although employees are increasingly allowed to dress in the way that suits their personal taste at work, this does not necessarily mean that they appear less serious and professional as a result.

It is important that you Tightrope walk manage between the job-related requirement and your individual style in order to always be dressed appropriately for the occasion and the job, without no longer doing justice to your personality. Rather, it is more about wearing the clothes at work, if possible underlines your personal image.

Excursus: How much can the boss intervene in the fashion style?

Requirements about how you look at work always interferes with your personality. Therefore, the question inevitably arises as to how extreme the specifications of your employer can be. That initially depends on the industry. In many professions, the dress code is used to identify the necessary Safety requirements and hygiene regulations to meet.

In positions with a lot of customer contact, a well-dressed and well-groomed appearance is often expected of you in order to make a good impression and to adequately present the company. In turn, your employer can decide how formal the clothing needs to be. He can also Specifications regarding color, cutout depth and heel height do.

The decision is based on the following points:

  • What appearance is common in the industry and does the company want to adapt to this standard or differentiate itself from it?

  • Do the required clothing match the company's products and services?

  • In which price segment are the products and services and what are the expectations of customers and business partners?

Too many restrictions are not allowed. Your employer must always weigh up whether the planned requirements can be justified. Interfering with your freedom as an employee to decide for yourself what to wear is always a must relatively and must not exceed the limits of reasonableness.

This is what it looks like in the following cases with permitted regulations:

  • Headscarf and kippah: Despite freedom of religion in Germany, it is permissible in certain cases to prohibit religious symbols in the workplace. For example, when wearing headscarves or chains when working with machines is too dangerous or when the company should appear neutral to the outside world. In some federal states, religious symbols are even forbidden in school work.

You can find more exciting questions and answers on the subject of “headscarves at work” here.

  • Underwear: Information about the color of the underwear is permitted, for example, if the color affects the character of the work clothing. The employer may also insist that you wear underwear, for example for hygienic reasons and to protect clothes if they are the property of the company.

  • Tattoos and piercings: Tattoos and piercings are no longer uncommon, but not always welcome in the business world. It is therefore up to the employer to make regulations on tattoos and piercings for you: For example, if you work a lot with customers and they expect a certain appearance.

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