As the days get warmer and longer, people naturally start to think of pool parties, cookouts, evening golf rounds and other kinds of outdoor fun. Along with those activities come the season’s brighter, lighter and more comfortable clothes. We’re talking flip-flops, sleeveless shirts, shorts, tank tops and other warm-weather gear that move to the top of our seasonal wardrobes.

Are your employees aware of what your organization deems acceptable summer attire?

Do you even have a summer dress code?

While some organizations have a very relaxed workplace dress code year-round, many do not. Employers who assume that everyone is on the same page often risk having to deal with distracting complaints and uncomfortable situations as the season wears on and it becomes apparent that people may not even be reading from the same book when it comes to your company’s summer dress code. The best way to deal with this is to have a simple, yet clear, dress code established beforehand that includes summer attire.

The best time to remind your employees of your summer work attire policy is before the vacations and warm-weather activities get into full swing and people’s fashion choices may become less, shall we say, workplace-focused?

If you are just looking to modify or start a new summer dress code, we suggest you consider laying your policy out early, and clearly. Give it more than a passing thought, too. We actually found some useful tips for working through this process posted by They include:

  • Use examples to define your dress-code terminology by example
  • Be sure to use gender-neutral terms
  • Remind people to dress appropriately when meeting with clients or visitors, at special events and for video conferencing
  • Assume nothing and give kind guidance to less-experienced employees
  • Be consistent, not arbitrary, with any policy you put in place by putting it in writing and holding to the code you create
  • Give advance notice of the dress code
  • Strive to work through disagreements with the summer dress code in a calm and respectful manner
  • Make accommodations for legitimate exceptions to stay compliant with EEOC and other regulations

If you are looking for a standard summer dress code template that you can check out to create something to fit your company culture, see what the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) offers here.

In the end, making all your dress codes part of your employee handbook. Remembering to review and update them regularly will help you avoid some fashion-focused issues and awkward conversations all year.