Categorized | Word On the Street

Do you think businesses should relax on its dress code during the hottest months of the year?

It depends on the business and the image your business wants to project. As a professional in commercial real estate, I am frequently showing properties in the summer heat. I wear cool summer sleeveless dresses, often with classy sandals. If I am not meeting clients (it happens very rarely) I might have flip flops, but I carry other shoes with me…just in case!Carol Kinnard, commercial associate, Commercial Asset Partners Realty

If you have no client/customer contact then I do not see the harm in relaxing it somewhat. However, if you will be interacting with clients on a regular basis, then flip flops (the beach, less-dressy type) or tank tops are just a little too casual. This statement coming from a girl that grew up at the beach and wears flip flops in ice rinks!Ashley Lyon, administrative assistant, Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce

I think the dress code should fit the workplace. For those with close face-to-face client contact, a “smart” business casual could be appropriate. However, beyond deciding a dress code for the summer is setting an appropriate company culture that ensures the right mindset from the employees year round. If companies spent more time empowering and engaging employees, productivity would naturally increase and there would be less worry about a dress code.Chad Sorenson, president, Adaptive HR Solutions, LLC

Let’s relax a little more when it’s 90+—a logo short sleeve shirt or logo polo with dress slacks for men or skirt for the women along with a nice pair of shoes. Wear a light weight navy blazer or conservative sport coat when meeting clients or out in public. Slip the jacket off when working in the office or in meetings. No shorts, T-shirts or flip flops.Jack Manilla, president/owner, Portofino Pools and Technical Institute

It depends on the industry you are in and whether you are in an office environment, warehouse environment, etc. Flip flops are not appropriate in the workplace, unless you are selling flip flops. Then there are safety issues to take into consideration, too. Our employee manual clearly states what is appropriate and what is not. If an employee is inappropriately dressed, the appropriate dress needs to be discussed with them. Your employees are a direct reflection of you and your business and sometimes they will push to the limit what is approved for your business.Patsy Underwood, owner, Atlantic Laser Office Products

My brand image is when someone thinks of me they should automatically see me in their minds eye wearing a long sleeve dress shirt, tie and suit coat. I did try wearing a polo shirt for two months as a test. At the end of the two months I put the suit and tie back on and met with the people that know me. I asked them what they thought the last time they saw me in the polo. It was 100% confirmation that this looks better and it is who I am.Thomas McKay, MSM, owner/manager, McKay Financial Solutions, LLC

Depending on the client, I usually wear dress slacks and a logo’d polo. I believe this still conveys professionalism without sacrificing creditability. Nothing was worse than when I was a pharmaceutical rep and would see other male reps walk into an office pouring in sweat because their manager made them wear a dark suit (jacket always on) when it was 100 degrees outside.Shaun Salari, Merchant Services Brokerage & Consulting

I am an old-timer, but I still feel that I perform better when I dress the part of a professional. As long as I am wearing a tie and a shirt, I feel that I am “in the mood” to do business and that I transmit that feeling to my clients as well.Haim Cassorla, independent insurance agent, Aflac


Lord yes, especially with folks who do outside sales. The people we call on in Jacksonville Florida (the home of the PGA Tour) generally wear nice looking shorts with a golf shirt. It looks odd when you walk in to a business with a shirt and tie and the person you are talking to is in shorts. You don’t look like you identify with your customer. I agree that flip flops, tank tops, and short shorts are not appropriate in the work place, nor does it look professional. I do believe that you need to be on the same playing field with your customer. One of the smartest bosses I’ve ever had in sales told me that a customer thinks the smartest people in the world are people who think just like them.Rob Nicholson, director of sales, EIG Productions

Sometimes the old saying of “give an inch and they’ll take a mile” can come in to play. It also depends on where you work and the type of job you do. If you are in a clerical position and never see customers, a casual dress code is appropriate, without going too far (SHORT shorts, etc.). As a front-line employee or outside salesperson, use common sense. I don’t think you can ever overdress. Be smart. If I walk in to meet with a potential client and I have a coat and tie on and they are dressed for their tee time, I would take my jacket off and put it on the back of the chair. I might even make a comment or a joke about my formal attire and how I wish I was dressed as casual that they are.Darrin Franz, consultant

While there are some casual clothing pieces that may be appropriate, tank tops, short shorts, flip flops, short skirts, or any other revealing article of clothing are not appropriate at any time in a professional office.Lucille Ferry, CEO, The Foxglove Foundation Inc.


In 1999, as the director of HR operations at BlueCross BlueShield of Florida, I was challenged to create and coordinate a revised “dress code” to bring the company into the new millennium. After much research and thorough coordination across a fairly large business (10K+ employees), we decided it was easier to define what was out than what was in in terms of attire. At the time, flip flops, tank tops, collarless shirts (for men), short shorts for women, sandals, for men, etc., were out. The various studies about the impact of “dressing down” are mixed in terms of the impact, albeit anecdotal, of allowing employees to “dress down.” Of greater importance, perhaps, is the leadership culture that is present in the first place. I also believe that wearing a suit to a client meeting provides some credibility until one opens his or her mouth. Then, the suit doesn’t matter as much anymore. What matters is the relevance/quality of the advice as perceived by the client or prospect relative to what they have received from your competitors.Brian Mickley, vice president & COO, Petros Estate & Retirement Planning/Woman’s Worth, LLC

It doesn’t seem like it matters what season it is, women always have more leniency in dress: open shoes including sandals and flip flops, sleeveless tops, etc., It really does not make sense any more in today’s world to wear suits and ties, but I think it should be the same for both male and female. If women can wear sandals and flip flops, men should be able to as well. It just does not seem to be acceptable no matter the dress code.Wayne Huffman, JDE, consultant, Business Process Analysts, Inc.

The heat is oppressive, no doubt about it. But as Carol said, you have to dress appropriately with clients. In the summer I wear sear-sucker or khakis, but I always have on a tie, because at the least, I know I may not want to wear a jacket, but a collared shirt and a tie can always show a level of professionalism to prospects and customers.—Jack Bobeck, box/file storage guru, paper to paperless expert, Imaging Source and Shredding Source

We moved from western North Carolina where dress shirts and ties were the norm. Here, I think that in some service-type industries collared short-sleeve shirts or polo’s with dressy shorts and tennis shoes should be acceptable. In a more professional setting, khaki or lightweight slacks with a short sleeve dress shirt and tie should be acceptable, similar dress for women. I still don’t think flip flops or tank tops fit in business environments.Jim Frank, president, Safe Harbor Solutions, LLC

I think that dress code should be based on industry expectations. If you are dealing with the public then dress as would be expected for your field of work. If you are not in the public, then I don’t see a problem with dressing down for the hot months. So, I guess in my case I could wear an orange apron and a pair of jeans and be a representative of what the consumer thinks a flooring salesperson should look like….haha. I’d rather send a message of professionalism here at my business. 🙂Rene Carter, president, Family Abbey Carpet and Floor

I think the dress needs to be appropriate for the situation. Sometimes that is a jacket and tie, often not. Flip flops and tank tops clearly are not appropriate in most business settings.Jon Cummins, CEO & president, Paramount Performance Marketing

Hmm that’s a tough one in today’s casual society. Flip flops-no, sandals-dressy ones, tank tops-no. Then how does management help staff determine what is allowed? By showing pictures and giving examples and using themselves as examples. One problem I have is that some women don’t seem to have personal pride in their dress. They allow themselves to wear blouses and shirts and tops and dresses where [cleavage] is all but falling out of what they have on top. That is not professional; that’s not even good personal female pride in one’s self. There is a time and place for everything and the work place is not the place for a woman’s breasts to be hanging out.Anita Currier Stelling,  CEO/founder/president/owner,

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