Professional Dress in the Workplace

This Tuesday, a colleague of mine, who is also a restaurant entrepreneur, briefly spoke in my Human Resource Management (HRM) class about the importance of HRM in his career. When he screened candidates, he started from three observable details: (a) whether the candidate carries a pen for interviews, (b) how well the candidate dresses for the position, and (c) what demeanors the candidate shows during the interview.

Indeed, how we dress and handle ourselves matter! According to the recruiter working in an international hotel chain (Kwok et al., 2011), hospitality is a still a conservative field; the hotel chain wants to see that candidates dress in business attire during job interviews, as what they would be expected at work.

Before, I shared some thoughts on business attire and business casual attire. In addition to those “common” what-not-to-wear tips (e.g., tattoos in most workplaces, mini-skirts, low-cut shirts, etc.), this ABC News video tells us more. For example,

  • Do NOT wear capes. It might look cute on the street, but not in the office. Instead, we should stick to the “classic” tailored suits.
  • Do NOT wear a designer bag or high-fashioned designer clothes for interviews. The underlying message conveyed in a candidate’s fashion statement is that s/he is so well-off that s/he might not really need the job.  
  • Do NOT wear leggings. Leggings are NOT pants. So, no matter how comfortably leggings could fit, do not wear them. Personally, I do not think leggings should be wear in public, not even in schools or grocery stores.  
  • Do NOT wear hats. A nice haircut is good.  
  • Do NOT wear any perfume or cologne. Please be thoughtful for the coworkers as they may not feel comfortable with the perfume or cologne.  
  • Do NOT wear flip flops. Flip flogs do not belong to the office regardless of the season.

Wearing appropriate dresses means more than just how we look --- it shows how much we care about ourselves and our coworkers. It also indicates how well we handle ourselves in professional occasions and how much we respect a company’s culture.

How important does the employees’ professional appearance mean to a hospitality business? Do you think hospitality companies need to put dress code in their employee handbook? Why or why not?

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