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

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.

OfficeTeam’s dress code survey found over half of employees prefer a casual dress code. Thirty-six percent of employees preferred a somewhat casual dress code, such as khakis and polo, skirt and sweater. And 20 percent preferred a very casual dress code, such as jeans and a T-shirt.

Wearing formal attire to the office is no longer a must for most U.S. workers. More employers are putting a casual dress code in place for employees. But OfficeTeam’s survey also revealed employees between 18 and 34 years old were unsure if their clothing was appropriate for the workplace.

Dress codes will vary from employer to employer, but here are some potential violations to stay clear of.

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.

Salary.com’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.

Exposing your tattoos at the workplace was taboo years ago. As time went on, more employers became comfortable with employees’ ink. Employers generally can’t ban employees from getting tattoos, but they may prefer not to see them during the workday.  Check with your work’s specific dress code to see how tattoos are addressed.

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.

As more companies offer a casual work environment, be cognizant of the types of jeans you’re wearing. Jeans can be dressed up and look professional. Jeans with holes or distressed likely aren’t the most appropriate for your workplace.

If your employer has a formal dress code, you may have to save the jeans for casual Fridays.

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.

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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