A Relaxed, Casual Dress Code for Work

What Casual Work Attire Really Means When Guiding What Employees Wear

Group of casually dressed office workers gathered around one workstation.
Christopher Robbins / Getty Images

What Are Employees Expected to Wear in a Casual Workplace?

Your company has asked employees to adhere to a particular standard in the business attire that employees wear to work. This casual dress code policy provides guidance for employees about what is proper to wear to work in the most casual of work environments.

A casual dress code differs from a business casual dress code in many ways. Chief among them is that in a business casual environment, shirts for men usually have collars and the pants worn are khaki. Jeans are only proper attire on the weekly jeans day which many companies offer.

In a casual workplace, jeans are everyday attire and shirts with or without collars are the norm. You will rarely see men wearing ties or sport coats in either business casual or casual workplaces unless the employee has a customer or client-facing day planned.

Women have a wider range of options. They can wear skirts, slacks, or dresses in either a casual or business casual workplace. The degree of formalness goes up in a business casual environment but it rarely approaches the attire that is worn in a workplace with a formal dress code.

Even in the most casual work environment, your employees' choice of clothing is not a free-for-all though. After all, in a casual work attire environment, because the workplace is a job with coworkers and other people around, employees are still asked to maintain a particular standard in clothing worn to work.

The following is the casual dress code policy, which you may use as a guideline when you create your own policy.

Casual Dress Code Policy

Your company's objective in establishing a relaxed, casual, and informal work dress code is to enable our employees to work comfortably in the workplace. Yet, certain standards are established so employees are not confused about the meaning of the terms relaxed, casual, and informal dress. Because no customers or clients are served in person at our company location, our chief concern is the comfort of our employees.

Guidelines for Appropriate Casual Attire

Because all casual clothing is not suitable for the office, these guidelines will help you determine what is appropriate to wear to work. Clothing that works well for the beach, yard work, dance clubs, exercise sessions, and sports contests may not be appropriate for a professional, casual appearance at work.

Clothing that reveals too much cleavage, your back, your chest, your stomach or your underwear is not appropriate for a place of business. In our work environment, clothing should be pressed and never wrinkled. Torn, dirty, or frayed clothing is unacceptable.

Casual Attire Recommendations

In a casual work setting, employees should wear clothing that is comfortable and practical for work, but not distracting or offensive to others. Any clothing that has words, terms, or pictures that may be offensive to other employees is unacceptable. Clothing that has the company logo is encouraged. Sports team, university, and fashion brand names on clothing are generally acceptable.

Makeup, Perfume, and Cologne

Remember that some employees are allergic to the chemicals in perfumes and makeup, so wear these substances with restraint. If you are aware of a coworker with this allergy, and you work in close proximity with them, consider refraining from wearing perfume or cologne on workdays.

Travel, Client Interaction, and Trade Shows

While the office setting can be casual because customers don't visit, traveling to see customers, exhibiting at or attending trade shows, and representing the company in the business community, requires different decisions about attire. Business casual dress is the minimum standard that must be observed when you are representing the company or interacting with customers or potential customers.

Before visiting a customer or potential customer, ascertain the accepted dress code and match it in your attire. This is especially important when you are traveling globally representing the company as customs and dress may differ from those observed in the United States.

Additionally, some community events, when you are representing the company, might require formal dress. These might include the Chamber of Commerce and other civic or business development meetings, luncheons, and dinners. Take your cue from other employees who have attended and be observant at the event. Certainly, if you are a speaker at a business event, consider wearing formal dress attire.

Finally, on the occasions when a customer or a business partner does visit the office, the employee groups with whom the visitor is interacting should adhere to business casual standards.

Conclusion About a Casual Dress Code

No dress code can cover all contingencies so employees must exert a certain amount of judgment in their choice of clothing to wear to work. If you experience an uncertainty about acceptable casual attire for work, please ask your supervisor or your human resources staff.

The Bottom Line

If clothing fails to meet these standards, as determined by the employee's supervisor and human resources staff, the employee will be asked not to wear the inappropriate item to work again. If the problem persists, the employee may be sent home to change clothes and will receive a verbal warning for the first offense. All other policies about personal time use will apply. Progressive disciplinary action will be applied if dress code violations continue.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance.­­