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Does Your Business Need a Dress Code?

Maybe your business or startup needs every edge it can get in this economy. You only get one chance to form a first impression. How you dress and how your employees dress provides an image of the company -- neat or sloppy, casual or formal, style or no-style. The dressing style of the company depends on the culture, life cycle of the company and sector. 

If you're a high-flying tech company, your dress code is going to be significantly different than an investment bank. Even if you're high tech, geographical location makes a difference as well. Companies in Silicon Valley, on the average will dress more casual than in Dallas. 

But one dress code is the same in most businesses: wearing skimpy outfits or clothes that reveal the body more than they should are not good for any sector unless you're trying to run a dating service. We don't encourage it because work environment should not be a meat market. Besides, it's very difficult enough for guys to keep their zippers zipped -- so why encourage it?

But sometimes companies will go to the extreme.

Swiss bank UBS AG recently gave out a 43-page code of advice on how employees should dress to be polished and impress customers.

Switzerland's boarding schools have similar guides and the Swiss are known for their preciseness, so we shouldn't really be surprised that the UBS guide goes beyond the rules of dress, and offers hygiene and grooming tips as well. Whether you believe your company should be so invasive and controlling of employees, you may want to read the list and take a few tips for yourself. 

UBS is testing their dress and grooming guide in five pilot branches in Switzerland. This supports its recent ad campaign to increase confidence in the bank's brand. USB's manual focuses on well-cut clothing in neutral, conservative colors such as grey, black and navy to symbolize "competence, formalism and sobriety." Shorts skirts are off limits as well as flashy accessories or eyeglasses.

Grooming tips include telling employees that their hair should be stylish and properly cut to "increase an individual's popularity." Women should wear light makeup consisting of foundation, mascara and discreet lipstick. The UBS code advises against black nail polish and nail art. For men, designer stubble is out of the question, as is excessive facial hair. Male employees should not dye their hair to mask their age because unnatural colors can actually age you.

The dress code even goes so far as to advise men to wear good quality underwear that is easily washable, but still remains undetectable. Black knee-high socks for men are preferred to prevent showing bare skin when crossing legs.

Here is a summary of the UBS code from WSJ.com:

The UBS Dress Code: Do's and Don'ts


For women:
* Wear your jacket buttoned.
* When sitting, the buttons should be unfastened.
* Make sure to touch up hair regrowth regularly if you color your hair.

For men:
* Store your suit on a large hanger with rounded shoulders to preserve the shape of the garment.
* Schedule barber appointments every four weeks to maintain your haircut shape.

* Eating garlic and onions
* Smoking or spending time in smoke-filled places
* Wearing short-sleeved shirts or cuff links
* Wearing socks that are too short, showing your skin while sitting
* Allowing underwear to be seen
* Touching up perfume during or after lunch break
* Using tie knots that don't match your face shape and/or body shape

At entrepreneurdex, our dress code is casual but we don't allow anyone to come in a bathing suit no matter how hot the Dallas summers get. We also believe that you should dress right for the occasion (but try telling this to the founder, damir ). Our founder believes that ties cut off circulation to the brain and could cause loss of creativity but he's changing on this front as well. How you dress depends on what function responsibilities you have in the company. If you're in sales and most of the buyers are conservative, by all means, you should dress conservatively as much as possible.

Use common sense even though there are people who will come to work dressing like they have none.

Does your company have a dress code? How do you want your employees to dress?

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Comment by Damir Perge on January 13, 2011 at 11:08am
My preferable dress code is still jeans and T-Shirt. I like to be comfortable after I've put in 15 hours of fun (work) every day. However, I do think that wearing a suit is important when you're going to a conservative meeting. In regards to raising capital, I now dress how I want without having to wear suits unless I want to. I've earned my stripes by now to wear clothes that suit my personality.

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