The importance of a dress code for professionalism varies somewhat by industry, but the correlation between the two is generally strong. Some companies prefer to allow employees to dress freely or casually for comfort, which works in more creative work environments. However, companies in which employees routinely interact with prospects, clients and business partners typically need a dress code to maintain a professional image. Small businesses may benefit by maintaining a strong professional image.

Professionalism Basics
The nature of professional dress is somewhat tied to your industry. Professional behavior for a lawyer, for instance, is likely different from that of a retail store manager or manufacturing plant worker. However, the standard of professionalism remains constant in that each of these workers is generally expected to exhibit traits and behaviors up to a certain standard of excellence for someone in his position.

Dress Code Basics
Appropriate dress, along with basic etiquette, is one of the most common associations made to professionalism. We form first impressions and overall judgments about people by the way they dress. If the way someone dresses affects the perception of your company’s customers or business partners, it is important to maintain a standard of dress that creates a positive impression. No standard or casual dress standards may make employees comfortable, but the point of professionalism and etiquette is to make others comfortable.

The way you dress carries certain messages to those who meet you. Thus, a company that wants to maintain a professional image or certain status in the marketplace should make a dress code a priority. In an article titled “Professional Dress Code Tips” for Burleson Consulting, Donald K. Burleson points out that financial employees and executives, along with many other people in business, are expected to dress professionally because of the expectation the public has in the professional nature of their jobs.

Employer Rights, Individual Freedoms
Some employers face a battle from employees who believe they have the right to dress and groom in a way that suits their personality. This is true — outside of the employer’s operation. Burleson indicates that U.S. law strongly supports the rights of an employer to establish a dress code that aligns with their business activities. While individuals have a right to express themselves, so to do businesses, and the way your employees dress definitely sends intended or unintended messages to your markets.

Sourced from Oct 6, 2014,