Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

by : 
Kim Perkins
June 1, 2014

Question: We have an employee who doesn’t always dress appropriately. Sometimes she wears jeans with big holes; other times crop tops that show her belly. I know “holey” jeans are in fashion and crop tops can be cute, but to me they look sloppy and unprofessional. When she dresses like this, do I send her home to change?

Answer: My answer depends on whether you have a written dress code. Having one may sound silly (it did to me years ago), but it serves two purposes: Employees know exactly what is expected, and you can refer to clear guidelines when you need to address inappropriate attire.

If you have a written dress code and your employee is ignoring it, by all means send her home to change. This may cause a bit of a hardship for her (lost wages and gas cost) and for you (short-staffing on the sales floor), but hopefully you only have to do this once. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you need to document each time you speak with her and/or send her home, and you may have to let her go.

Kim Perkins is co-owner of Elysian Fields Books & Gifts for Conscious Living (, an award-winning store in Sarasota, Fla. Send your retail questions to