our everyday life

How to Write a Dress Code Memo

by Bronwyn Timmons, studioD

Dress code policies enhance professionalism and help businesses convey a specific image to customers and clients. If you've noticed that your employees are failing to show up in business attire, a memo can help eliminate confusion while serving as a friendly reminder to dress appropriately. Your dress code memo should be straight-forward while maintaining a professional tone, and it should be made available to all staff members so everyone is aware of your policy.

Choose Your Dress Code

The industry you work in will dictate the dress code you implement for your employees; appropriate attire in a retail store will likely be very different from appropriate attire in a lawyer's office, for example. Determine the level of professionalism you expect from your staff, and the type of clothing you expect them to wear to reflect it. Make a list of appropriate clothing, such as slacks, khakis, knee-length skirts, polo shirts, collared shirts and ties. Make a list of garments you'll prohibit as well, such jeans, tank tops, sandals and hats. Once you have a set policy in mind, you can craft a successful memo.

List Format

Your memo can be written in any format you choose, but a list will be easiest for you to write and for employees to understand. Write a short introduction stating that the memo pertains to dress code guidelines, followed by a bulleted or numbered list of acceptable and unacceptable attire. Employees will have little room to misinterpret your policy. Conclude your memo by thanking your staff for their compliance, as well as instructions to speak to you or another manager if they have any questions regarding the policy.

Tone and Length

Throughout your memo, it's important to maintain a tone that's both professional and polite. Refrain from calling out any employees who have been dressing inappropriately, and instead speak to your staff as a whole. Keep the memo simple and to-the-point; it does not need to be the length of a novella to get your message across.


When crafting your memo – and policy – remember that you can't institute rules that discriminate against employees based on their sex, race, religion or disability. For example, some religions require men to maintain beards, so be careful when drafting policies that expressly forbid them. Be prepared to make exceptions for some employees – within reason, of course – in order to respect their beliefs and backgrounds, as well as to avoid accusations of workplace discrimination.

About the Author

Based in Colorado, Bronwyn Timmons has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has appeared on a variety of websites, covering topics such as career and education planning, wedding planning, home improvement, crafts and gardening. Timmons is pursuing her bachelor's degree in mortuary science.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images