Top 10 Employee Dress Code Violations

Kelly Spors

Some people take “business casual” to a whole new level. But as companies have relaxed their dress codes and gone “business casual,” employees have stretched the limits—a lot

1. Breaking out the beachwear.

When the temps outside reach 80 or above, it’s natural for people to want to dress lightly. Unfortunately, some of them dress way too lightly, showing up at the office in everything from Hawaiian shirts to tank tops and flip-flops. Unless you’re trying to build office morale with “Luau Fridays,” it’s something to watch out for.

2. Showing too much skin.’s survey revealed that many workers were scandalized to see female coworkers wearing shirts that seemed too low-cut for the workplace.

3. Exposing tattoos.

Employers generally can’t ban employees from getting tattoos, but they may prefer not to see them during the workday.

4. Dressing too informally for important meetings.

It’s one thing when employees are just working away in the office; client meetings are a whole other situation. Most companies—even those with “business casual” policies—expect their employees to dress up (such as bringing out the suit coat) when attending conferences, trade shows or meeting with clients. Apparently not everyone gets the memo.

5. Wearing jeans.

They may look stylish with a suit coat, but wearing jeans is still taboo for many employers.

6. Wearing the wrong colors.

Some companies require their employees to wear certain colors to work that are associated with their brand or image. Target, for example, requires its store workers to don red shirts so shoppers can find them easily. But “red” can mean different things to different people. Workers may try to push the limit by wearing maroon, dark pink or even burnt orange.

7. Sporting hats.

When baseball season hits full swing, some employees might want to show off their favorite ball cap in the office—but that may be in blatant violation of the dress code. (Keep in mind that employers have to be careful about how they restrict headwear and hairstyles in the office.)

8. Not tucking in shirts.

Starbucks requires its baristas to wear black or white collared shirts, and they need to be tucked in.

9. Too much bling.

Some jewelry is usually fine by company policy. Many employers, though, would prefer their workers not overdo it, especially if it involves multiple piercings.

10. Wearing clothes that look wrinkled.

It only takes a few minutes to iron a shirt or a pair of pants. But in today’s busy world, some employees don’t do it, making themselves look sloppy and wrinkled in the most stylish of dress outfits—and breaking one of the most common dress code rules.’s Dress Code Survey recently found that about 60% of employees said they have a dress code at their workplace and 14% said they’ve filed a formal complaint against a coworker who they thought was wearing something inappropriate. (Twenty-two percent said they hadn’t filed a complaint, but they wanted to.)

Wearing formal attire to the office is no longer a must for most U.S. workers.

Especially during the summer months, employees might be tempted to trade in their loafers for flip-flops or their Polo shirt for a tank top. So, how can companies keep their workers better in line when it comes to adhering to the company dress code? The Phoenix Business Journal offers these tips.


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