The Pros and Cons of Having a Dress Code

The way your employees are dressed can have a direct financial impact on your retail business. Not only does having an employee dress code give your retail shop a professional image, it can also encourage your staff to perform better. At the same time, there are a few reasons why a retail shop owner may be reluctant to implement an employee dress code. Staff members may be resistant to a new dress policy. Then, there is the question of legality. In recent years, several businesses -- most notably Abercrombie & Fitch -- have been sued for dress code policies which were deemed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to be discriminatory. If you're not careful, your store's dress code could get you into legal trouble.

Should you have a dress code in your retail store? Before making a decision, consider the following pros and cons of employee dress code policies.


  1. Convenience. Having a dress code makes dressing for work easier for your employees. By having a set of guidelines with respect to proper grooming and clothing, your employees will spend less time getting ready for work. In this way, an employee uniform or dress code pays off over the long run in terms of fewer late incidences. You also avoid needing to send an employee home for not dressing appropriately for work.
  2. Image. A dress code gives your business visual conformity. Customers shopping in your store won't need to wonder who works there and who doesn't. Customers who are able to easily identify staff members will have a more satisfying shopping experience, and will be more likely to want to return to your store.
  3. (Almost) free advertising. Investing in staff uniforms is a low-cost way to advertise your retail shop. By having your company logo emblazoned on your employees' uniforms, you promote your business to every customer who enters your store. You'll also benefit from free advertising during employees' off-work hours, as they'll likely wear their uniforms to and from work. While the initial investment of employee uniforms can be high, you can save thousands of dollars in advertising costs over the long run.


  1. Cost. If you're investing in uniforms, you'll need to take the initial cost of the uniforms into account. You'll also need to budget for loss, damage, and normal wear and tear of uniforms.
  2. Compliance issues. Your employees may be reluctant to follow your dress code policy. If your policy is too strict, instilling a new dress code can lead to extra time spent dealing with compliance problems.
  3. Uniforms can appear impersonal. In some cases, having all of your employees wearing the same uniform can make your retail business feel sterile to both customers and employees. Depending on the nature of your business, you may wish to forego the uniform in favor of a business casual dress code.

Having a dress code can benefit your retail business in many ways beyond providing a professional image. Consider introducing a dress policy to keep your employees motivated and improve the reputation of your retail shop.