Express Yourself: Walmart Introduces Relaxed Dress Guidelines in Stores

May 30, 2018

Dress guidelines closet

We’ve been listening to your feedback and are really excited to switch from the old, long text-based policy full of “Don’ts” to a lookbook loaded with great color photos showing how you can make your personal style work at work.

This is a big deal – and I’m speaking from experience. I started in the stores as an hourly intern and worked 16 years in the field. Growing up in stores, I always tried to make the dress code mine, like adding a necklace to the required blue shirt and khakis to try and dress them up a bit. But, no matter what you do, wearing the same clothes day after day gets boring.

When you can use almost your entire closet to get dressed and express your own style, you’re more engaged and feel inspired to go out and meet people. You feel included and more confident – and that confidence rubs off on others.

You’re also more comfortable. Here are three big changes that should help in that department:

  1. All associates can now wear any color denim – yes, jeans!
  2. Shirts of any color or pattern are now allowed – no more requisite blue, unless it’s your favorite color!
  3. Management can join hourly associates in wearing sneakers. This one speaks to me. I remember what it was like having to wear dress shoes in the stores and walking 8 to 10 miles a day while on the job. Oof!

What hasn’t changed: Our iconic vest and the name badge. These will ensure our customers can find our associates and identify who gave them great service.

The new guidelines go into effect this month across all 4,700 stores in the U.S. We’ll even be celebrating the changes with a “Bring Yourself to Work Day” on June 4.

Updating our dress code wasn’t a sudden decision. The process included a pilot phase in several dozen stores. The reaction from associates in those stores has been amazing. Not only do they love the new relaxed looks, they’ve gone so far as to stage their own fashion shows.

We learned from the pilot that our associates love photos showing what’s allowed, and that we’re acknowledging it’s OK to be different. We don’t want anyone to feel like they have to be someone they aren’t when they’re at Walmart.

Managers are also given more flexibility to say “Yes” instead of “No, you can’t.” This way, they can focus on how our associates do their jobs and interact with customers rather than playing fashion police.

Safety and professionalism are still at the core, but relaxing the rules on style and letting people bring their whole selves to work just makes good sense for the business, for our people – and for fashion.