The formality of office attire often diminishes as temperatures rise. Whilst suits, ties and long-sleeved blouses might seem ideal in the winter, they can be uncomfortable and irritating in the summer. Maintaining a professional look by combining seasonal items with lighter-weight classics can be a challenge.

Unless there is an office or company uniform in place, summer office attire is usually complicated by the fact that appropriate clothing can change depending on the industry and corporate culture. For instance, employees working in a creative profession, or those that spend most of their day working behind the scenes, might be allowed less formal workwear, while client-facing professionals for example, may need to focus more on company impression than personal comfort. Wearing the wrong outfit can negatively affect an organisation’s image and can even cast doubts on its sense of competence. Therefore, it is important that employees dress in a manner which is suitable and appropriate to the employer’s business. In order to avoid the distractions and embarrassment that occurs when employees wear clothing that is too revealing or sends the message that comfort and appearance is more important than the organisation’s reputation, many companies prefer to set out comprehensive dress codes – particularly covering summer wear. A sound business rationale that enforces the right dress code not only demonstrates professionalism, but also helps to increase employee morale and communication. Additionally, offering guidelines to employees beforehand will help ensure employees understand the expectations of the business before incidents occur. With the introduction of any dress code, consistency of application (as with all employee policies) is important. Courts and tribunals have recognised that it is lawful to have a dress code as part of an employer’s right to protect its business image and reputation, but the requirements must be balanced against the reasonable freedom of the employee. When drawing up and introducing a dress code, employers and the HR department might want to consider the issues addressed below:

Have a written employee dress code policy that is clear and readily available for employees to read, understand and that the rules are consistently applied.

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