I read a meme which said, “When I asked why I don’t have any tattoos, I replied, I wouldn’t put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari.” It made me smile and wince at the same time. Some people love tattoos, and some don’t, but they are popular and if you are an employer how do you address that issue?
I am often asked to advise on corporate image and wardrobe for professionals. On one occasion I was given a brief by a very large financial services organisation. They wanted to address the problem of “too casual” saying that skimpy shoe-string strap tops and wearing thongs to work were quite normal. How could they fix that?
I’ve also been asked the question of the appropriateness of wearing Ugg boots to work. Really? Bond movie actor Monica Bellucci apparently refused the offer of Ugg boots to wear in her film trailer preferring to wear sky high Louboutin heels.
Belluci has a glamorous, movie star personal brand image to maintain and one way to demonstrate and maintain that is through her visual appearance. So too with your own personal brand or business brand. In your role if you want to be seen as a leader you need to look like one. Your clothes and appearance really are the external image of your brand.
What brand image are you projecting and if you are an employer, small business or large, do you have a definitive dress code policy for employees? And does it really matter in this era of, “dress for your day”, dress code policy?
Business dressing has become more relaxed over the past years. Long gone are the days of very formal, pin striped suiting. The majority of business people wear smart, business casual and try to appear more approachable to their client base. Which is fine if you have young, trendy staff and that is your client base. What if you have young trendy staff and your client base is much older and formal?
The best way is to know what your customers both internal and external expect of you and to have a style guide in place. Just like your brand communication collateral style guide.
It’s quite rare nowadays to have a written out formal dress code. However, in the club industry where I have done quite a bit of work, and other environments where a uniform is part of the brand image, a dress code policy is essential, as those businesses want their employees to be presenting a smart, professional image as they are ambassadors for the organisation and reflective of the brand to the visiting customers.
Most people do understand what is expected of them, but I still think a “dress style code” should be suggested when new people are inducted into your business because when everyone (including you) presents themselves in the same manner, you maintain a quality culture.
Your guideline to style should be written out and given to all employees when they sign up for their new role. You should still maintain sensitivity and not be too authoritarian however some will really appreciate knowing what is expected of them. Here’s a checklist:
- The overall brand image including mission, vision of the organisation
- Guidelines to business dress and appropriate office wear
- Guidelines to the wearing of uniforms if appropriate
- Client meeting and networking expectations
- Guideline to casual Fridays, including policy on jeans if appropriate
- Footwear guidelines
- Jewellery and accessories including body piercing and tattoos
- General appearance including grooming
- Safety wear if it is part of your industry or your clients
Remember if your outfit could speak – what would if say about you and your company?
If you need any assistance with image training or style guidelines, please contact us.
If you would like to understand more about personal branding, I have a free video series, NOOK, LOOK, HOOK, 3 Steps to Build a Stand Out Personal Brand.
Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is recognised as a leading authority on personal branding to boost image, profile, brand and business. Through her image management programs, workshops, consulting and keynote presentations, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs present an influential brand image.