Can Summer ‘Casual’ Cross the Line?

Aug 08, 2015



Flip-Flops and Spaghetti Straps: Can Summer ‘Casual’ Cross the Line?


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As business heats up over the summer, you may be considering casual dress for your employees.

While many workplaces maintain the same dress code year-round, employees may regard a ‘summer casual’ as a workplace perk.  That said, there is often an employee or two who may take this opportunity to the extreme...(you already know who they are :-)


According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “While a lot of summer “no-no’s” appear to be aimed at women’s fashion choices—halter tops, tube tops, short skirts , sheer fabrics, bare legs and spaghetti straps—it’s wise for employers to pay just as much attention to men’s summer attire. Men working in creative fields, for instance, are more likely to wear shorts, overly casual pants, shirts that aren’t tucked in and sandals such as Birkenstocks during the summers.

Here are some tips from SHRM for creating a summer dress code:

  • Put a general dress code in place before summer arrives. This ensures everyone’s on notice about the rules, which should also specify repercussions for transgressions, whether that means being sent home to change or receiving verbal or written warnings.

  • Be specific: If your summer dress code is “business casual,” explain in the policy what that means for men and for women. Spell out what’s restricted, whether it’s capris, sleeveless tops, types of suits, sundresses, shorts, tank tops, open-toed shoes, flip-flops or the like. “Wouldn't it be great if everyone had the same idea as to what casual really meant?” Grigg asked. “Firms take a risk unless they define what casual means.”

  • Handle all offenders equally. Be consistent about singling out people who violate the code, no matter their age or rank. While Millennials tend to have different standards than older workers for what’s appropriate attire at work, that doesn’t mean they should be held to different rules. And it’s not sexual harassment to tell a female employee that she can’t wear a tube top to work. If one offender gets away with breaking the rules, others will follow.


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