Dressing for success at work -- within the dress code

Dressing for success at work -- within the dress code

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Everybody's thinking about dressing for success, looking their best and standing out at work. But it's important to be mindful of the company dress code.

Employers Council CEO Monica Whalen says fashions change with the times and companies need to as well.

"Set some general standards and be mindful of the company culture, as well as the customer expectations," she said. "Set your dress policies and grooming standards that allow for some individual expression but meet the needs of your business."

But she says there are some absolute no-no's for every business. "Thong underwear with the strap showing, flip-flops, and logos on T-shirts that are advertising sex or drug use," she said. "Another guideline I like to suggest to employers is have language in there about no excesses, no extremes about jewelry, makeup and hairstyles. That can go for men and women. That takes care of your green makeup, your nose piercings and your Tammy Faye makeup."

Whalen says most of the employees know what's appropriate and what's not.

"So for those one or two that don't seem to get it, pull them aside and have a little heart to heart with them instead of punishing the entire group," she said.

Employers may on occasion have a duty to accommodate an exception to their dress code if it's based on a religious practice. "There clearly are discrimination laws that require employers to accommodate somebody's particular dress that may be related to their religious practice," she said.

A dress code can also have different requirements for men and women. "A company legally can make distinctions between men and women without it being a discrimination violation. Exactly what those requirements are depends on the company culture and customer expectations," she said.

E-mail: mrichards@ksl.com

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