bring back neckties?

In Voir Dire in the National Law Journal, a law professor at Case Western Reserve says companies should bring back neckties and other dress code provisions to send a "signal of seriousness and civility" in the workplace.  He attributes the loosening of dress codes as "misguided working class solidarity," "efforts to create a nurturing atmosphere," and "male underdressing" to equalize the workplace for the sexes.   What do you think?


  • 10 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Does he publish any evidence that dress codes relate to manners?

  • I agreed with TXHRGuy - what is the evidence used to support these comments?  I don't necessarily agree that just because you have a more relaxed dress code that it means your organization is not productive and profitable.  I think it is all about how the organization is run and managed.  There are many very successful companies that allow a more casual dress code.  And for that matter, there are a many very strict professional business attire dress code companies (I guees you could call them conservative) that are not doing well in terms of goals and profits.



  • I don't believe it's the actual style of dress that results in poor performance but the conduct of the company itself. Comparing a successful business to a struggling one with regard to dress code is apples and oranges.

    Personally, I'd rather see everyone wearing a tie Mon-Thurs and have Friday business casual. I don't see why people should be allowed into work in a pair of jeans and tennis sneakers when they're supposed to look, feel, and act like professionals. I would go so far as to suggest that if they can 'get away with' wearing lounge clothes, then perhaps their attitude will spill into performance, ettiquite and responsibility. It would be wrong to say that clothes make the man, however it would also be wrong to say that your feelings of yourself and others go unnoticed with regard to clothing choice. If you beg to differ, try walking into work wearing a potato sack.

     The FACT is, in a friendly, comfortable environment...most people feel better about themselves when they dress the part. It's a terrible shame that the US work force is becoming so lax and lazy about their appearance.

    I say if your company is too involved in having fun, playing pranks, or lolly-gaging...then go for the mandatory dress code. If they're a suffering, high stressed company, then I could see where comfort would be more important.

    Cowboy boots and a big black texas hat is ok in my book, however. ;)

  • I think there are studies indicating that schools who have reverted to uniforms and a stricter dress code for students (and teachers) show that students have a more serious, focused attitude and are more productive.
  • You're correct that there studies that indicate student performance and behavior improves when uniforms are worn. But it's equally true that there have been studies to the contrary.

    I went to Catholic schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade from the late 70s to late 80s--some had uniforms, all had dress codes.  I know we are talking about kids and teens here and not adults, but I don't think it had much of an impact on behavior.

     What had impact were the teachers--if they commanded our attention, were compelling speakers and were effective at what they did, then by and large, we were pretty well-behaved and performed at a higher level. If not--if they lacked confidence, didn't assert themesleves and weren't compelling--we acted like a bunch of little crappers.

    I'm not making a direct comparison to teachers and managers/company leaders, but I think something has to be said for company culture. If you work for a company that makes their expectations of you are clear, hold you accountable for your work, and treat you the right way/with respect, compensate you fairly and recognize your accomplishments, most employees will respond in kind. I thik a bad, demotivational work culture spawns apathy and laziness, not a casual dress code.

  • [quote user="CTCarter"]

    ...but I think something has to be said for company culture. If you work for a company that makes their expectations of you are clear, hold you accountable for your work, and treat you the right way/with respect, compensate you fairly and recognize your accomplishments, most employees will respond in kind. I think a bad, demotivational work culture spawns apathy and laziness, not a casual dress code.


    I was trying to think of a way to express this exact thought. I think it depends more on the culture.  The two hardest working, most productive employees that I have here wear shorts and t-shirts most days unless they have an internal/outside meeting that requires different dress.  They have NEVER shown up for a specific meeting dressed wrong.  They each work 10-12 hours a day without taking much of a break and the company could not run without them.  If you asked either to dress up everyday, they would be gone.  Luckily they are mature individuals who can make the right choices when needed.

     Have I had employees who couldn't make the right choice? Yes and we have learned to counsel them.  But generally, we allow employees to make the choice based on their job description/duties for the day. For example, I wore denim jeans today (usually jeans are reserved for Fridays). You may ask why ?  Well, I am doing filing which means being on the floor a good part of the day (since my filing cabinets are low ones). I am not going to file in good clothing.  If I wait for a Friday to file, my stacks will be larger than they already are. Because for some reason, Fridays are not slow around here!



  • Sounds like a great approach, HRforMe--have employees dress appropriately depending on what the situation calls for. Talk about a policy that communicates faith in and respect for the people you've hired. Kudos!

  • Let's also keep in mind that a uniform policy is not the same as a formal dress code.

    Saying everyone has to wear a blue blazer, white button up shirt, and black tie is a uniform code.  If the evidence suggests that children are more focused when they're all in uniform at school, I can certainly see how that translates well into some work environments.

  • A uniform policy can be part of a formal dress code policy.  My last company had certain departments that were required to wear certain shirts and pants (company issued uniforms) and other departments that had a dress code policy to adhere to (business attire, their own clothing).

    I do think that no matter if we are talking about children or adults that just because you have a formal dress code does not mean that these individuals will be more productive.  I agree with some of the previous posters that it is all about those in authority. If the teacher/manager/executives do not set expectations and make sure they are adhered to then you will not be productive/successful.


  • My point is that the studies mentioned above talk about how children perform better in some ways if they are in a uniform and how that does not translate directly into adults performing better under a formal dress code.  A uniform is a uniform.  A formal dress code is not a code of uniform dress unless the personal appearance policy simply stipulates that everyone dress in formal business attire that happens to look the same across all the employees to whom the policy applies.

    I agree with you that leadership will trump dress codes almost always.  I think there are places where some kind of dress code can substantially aid leadership by preventing certain types of distractions from entering the workplace.  For example, dress in schools affects social conflict and pecking order which can end up harming academic focus in that age group and in that environment.  Teachers can no longer beat their students or simply send them packing or even counsel them on their attire in many if not most situations, so a uniform policy may be highly beneficial in that context.  A personal appearance policy that stipulates good hygience is a good idea because BO can be a reall distraction in a cubicle farm but may not mean so much at my friend's brother's worksite where they do construction and maintenance work on wastewater treatment plants.  I don't see how wearing a tie or forcing everyone to buy a bunch of more expensive clothing will assist them in performing their jobs better or help them to work and play well with others in typical work environments.

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