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the dresscode debate

September 25th 2019

One of the organisations I work with has just started a conversation about dresscode.  And interestingly, while part of the chat was about what is acceptable attire and what isn’t, the other more interesting part of the conversation was actually about whether the organisation should even be enforcing dresscode standards. Is it even their place to dictate how someone should dress?  Is that driving conformity at the expense of individuality?  Is it restricting the ability for someone to express themselves?

Archie as Bumble Bee

It’s an interesting debate, that made me think about Archie, my 5 year old who started school in May.  He is attending a primary school that doesn’t have a uniform, which allows him the freedom to dress however he wishes, every, single, day. And so he does.  He fulfills his love of superhero dress up by alternating between Spider-Man, Superman, Batman and Bumble Bee the Transformer.  And to be honest, I don’t think his transition to school would’ve been as smooth if he’d be forced to wear “normal” clothes every day.  Lycra onesies are Archie’s way of feeling comfortable.

And I don’t think the workplace is any different.  Being comfortable allows individuals to flourish, to excel, to contribute, which ultimately increases engagement.   There are also enormous diversity benefits that come from allowing individuals to express themselves in the workplace.

But of course, there is a caveat to all this.  A Batman onesie isn’t appropriate everywhere, and relaxing a dresscode is reliant on employees taking pride in their appearance and having an inherent understanding of what is acceptable in the workplace. 

So if you’re not restricted by health & safety or brand guidelines dictating a uniform must be worn, then why not give it a go.  Step back from a specified dresscode, and allow your employees to choose their wardrobe, and hope they choose wisely!

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