We asked the 237 respondents to our recent survey on dress codes at meetings (see the survey results here) to elaborate on their opinions. Here's a sampling of what they told us.
Beyond clothing that is too casual or revealing, what other attire do you consider inappropriate for meetings?
• Baseball or golf caps, sunglasses
• Pants without a belt
• While I do not "like" to see body piercing anywhere, if it is a part of that person's self image, I can not in all honesty say it should not be acceptable at a business meeting.
• Miniskirts, unusual/unnatural hair color
• Inappropriate T-shirts with beer, bars or liquor references, or stupid statements
• If you would not wear it to church, you should not wear it at a meeting. If you would not meet your future in-laws in this attire, then don't wear it to a meeting.
• The venue dictates the dress. The only other factor seems to be idiot hotels that want to freeze the customers in meeting rooms, requiring them to bring in extra clothes to keep warm!
If you have asked an attendee to modify his or her attire during a meeting, why?
• It was at a trade show -- she was demoing much more than the company's equipment.
• We have asked attendees not to wear baseball caps during meetings.
• A staff person came in with a very, very short skirt to work a booth.
• An attendee was asked to change from jeans and a hooded sweatshirt to khakis and a more acceptable shirt.
• A newly elected vice president showed up in shorts to have his picture taken. I asked him to go change.
• We say something only if they are our employees; if they are customers, etc., we let it go unless it is offensive. Then, we ask that the specific manager address their folks as needed.
• We ask people to keep their shoes on their feet.
A few more thoughts:
• There's not much we can do when they show up badly dressed from far away, but we are being much stronger in our required dress codes, mentioning specifically "no T-shirts," etc.
• Most of the time a gentle reminder of what and why they were invited to participate in the meeting is usually enough.
• It's too political to enforce a "code," but giving folks guidelines is critical so they are not embarrassed.