Small Business Brief


To Allow Leggings or Not? An Employer’s Guide to a Business Casual Dress Code Policy

Steady productivity coupled with a balanced workplace environment is every employer’s dream. But sometimes goals fall short. The dress code in particular. 

That’s why creating dress code rules that work for business and employees is vital. 

Depending on the business, the days of formal business attire are long gone. More offices are leaning towards casual dress requirements. In fact, in a survey of workers and managers, 27% favored casual dress code or none at all. 

Many corporate offices prefer some semblance of professional dress, even if it’s casual. Hence, the term business casual. But for many employees, it’s hard deciphering between what’s casual and business casual.

If you’re not sure what to allow employees to wear in a business casual office, read on. Discover this employer’s guide to a sensible business casual dress code policy.

Business Casual Dress Code Policy

A good business casual dress code policy mixes professionalism with comfort. This may vary based on the company, environment, and culture. But that’s a good standard definition.

Business casual moves away from traditional suit and tie. Female employees aren’t forced to wear hose and heels. Some companies go as far as to permit clean-cut jeans on Fridays. 

Whatever the case, as the employer you have to set the standards of the code for everybody.

Khakis, Suits Pants, and Slacks

Khakis are a type of fabric mainly used for military clothing. But thanks to designers, they’re an acceptable form of slacks for the workplace. 

These pants come in different shades of brown and work with any type of shirt-collared or not. Most of them come quadra-pocketed. They have two business looking pockets in the front and button-up pockets in the back.

Remind your employees to steer clear of cargo or drawstring khakis. Some cargos have side pockets that are too large to deem as professional. And drawstring pants look similar to jogging pants. That’s unacceptable. 

Suit pants and regular slacks are always acceptable. They have belt loops and you can wear them without a jacket. Pants with belt loops look more business, even when they’re dressed down. 

Jackets, Shirts, Blouses, and Tops

Jackets are always permissible, especially if an employee wears a non-collared shirt or top. Shirts and tops without a collar fall outside of business casual. But, if you cover one with a jacket, it raises the look to business casual. 

Blouses work but set guidelines for those that are light-colored or sheer. Make sure proper under attire gets worn underneath them.

Shirts should always have a collar, even if they’re short-sleeved and cotton. Tops with logos, other than the company’s, are a no-go. Also, no emblems or shirts with offensive designs and images.

If you’re unsure where to start, look to a collection that’s already put together. One, in particular, the Jared Lang, has some nice selections coming available after February 2019

Skirts and Dresses

Skirts and dresses remain acceptable at a professional length. In a standing and seated position, these should remain at knee-length.

Slits are okay, as long as they still appear professional when an employee sits down. Of course, mini-skirts, skin-tight skirts, beach dresses, and spaghetti straps are not made for the office. So don’t allow them. 

Footwear, Headwear, Accessories, and Colognes

Business shoes, loafers, heels, flats, are boots are okay for the office. Clean sneakers, orthopedics, and closed-toe clogs are as well.

Bedazzled sneakers and sandals are unacceptable. Flip-flops, beach thongs, house slippers, and open-toe shoes are a risk. Don’t allow them in the office. 

Hats are never allowed. Head wraps for cultural or religious purposes are. Employees should wear jewelry and accessories in good taste. Excessive body piercings and tattoos aren’t business professional. Encourage employees to limit piercings and cover tattoos as necessary.

The same with makeup. 

Colognes are fine as long as they’re worn with respect to those with allergies. Scents should be light and non-offensive. 

Set a Dress Code

Deciding on what’s acceptable attire in the office can get overwhelming. But smart employers establish a business casual dress code policy for business’ sake. 

Be smart and fare with what you allow in the office. And remember to keep factors in like environment, culture, and business model in mind.

Read through some of our small business articles for insight on business solutions.