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We are forever reminded that judging a book by its cover is the wrong thing to do and that we should look beneath the surface for a more meaningful insight into who somebody is. However no matter now non-biased and reserved you try to keep your judgements, there really is no escaping the fact that what you’re wearing says a great deal about you. But what we want to know is, are strict workwear rules still relevant in this modern day and age?

It’s an undeniable fact of life that you are going to judge and be judged by what is on the outside, no matter how hard you resist the force of superficial persuasion. This means that the clothes you choose to wear speak volumes about what’s going on on the inside and are highly influential in the first impressions people make of you. Initial impressions are important throughout all aspects of life, which is why you would never go and pick up a pint of milk wearing a balaclava and steel toe-cap boots but they are particularly prevalent when it comes to doing business.

Creating the right impression in front of customers, clients and colleagues is paramount in your own personal productivity but also the overall success of the company you are representing. Therefore it comes as no surprise that staff attire has been a pressing issue for employers and business owners for many, many decades. However in this new age of modernism and individuality, does this traditional governance still stand?

Granted, turning up in flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt to an important board meeting will (probably) never be acceptable but is the colour of your shoes and the width of your tie really going to have that much impact on your efficiency? Or would the professional world go to pot if we stopped relying so heavily on tailored two pieces and freshly polished lace-ups? We explored both sides of the argument.

YES to workwear regulations

The most obvious factor that comes into play when defending the constraints placed on workwear by convention is the presence of health and safety regulations that absolutely must be adhered to. For example, you are restricted from wearing scarves or jewellery to work if you are operating machinery and must have your hair off the face when dealing with or handling food. These rules have been put in place specifically for the safety of yourself and others so it would be foolish not to follow them.

It’s not all about the regulations set by the business you are working for or your boss just wanting to assert their power, what you wear is also instrumental in helping you set the right frame of mind and project the right image and attitude. If you look good, you feel good and when you’re comfortable with your own appearance, you’re far more confident in practice. Often workwear is a lot like a superhero uniform that you can put on when you slip out of your pyjamas and feel like you are ready to take on the world with your outstanding professionalism.

A company dress code is also key in establishing a strong brand image. If a client or customer expects to see you looking a certain way, whether that’s suited and booted or wearing a high-vis vest and hard hat, that is what you need to provide. If you turn up to a meeting with them wearing an ensemble that is atypical to the industry you are working in, they might find it difficult to trust the brand you are representing. To them you aren’t the person who likes to curl up in a hoodie and slipper socks in front of a horror movie, you’re the person who is providing them with a professional service or product so you should look the part.

NO to workwear restrictions

Although it is obviously always wise to acknowledge and follow social and professional boundaries, we are in the 21st century where personal style and individuality are crucial. If a person is forced to wear a uniform that completely obliterates their personality, how are they expected to perform to their best potential with optimum confidence? There has been an undeniable cultural shift in attitudes towards workplace attire and people are slowly warming to the idea of more unconventional uniforms.

The idea of a tattooed accountant wearing Converse and ripped-knee jeans was at one point, out of the question but although we might not be quite there yet, the times do appear to be changing. We are a firm of accountants who deliver an exceptional and professional service to thousands of clients around the country so you might expect us to be a team of suit-clad professionals who carry a briefcase wherever we go. However we are in fact an eclectic mix of people all with our own individual styles but this doesn’t make us any less commendable than our more traditional counterparts.

Tattoos, facial hear and body piercings are issues which also come under the umbrella of workplace attire and are often a source of extreme controversy. Recent research revealed that 40% of people still think that visible tattoos are ‘always inappropriate’ but is a modern expression of individuality really so unprofessional?

Read more about that here and let us know your thoughts by tweeting us

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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