Dressing formally for work is a sign of respect in many cultures and industry sectors. EHL students are immersed from day one in a professional environment that prepares them to make a good first impression in any business situation. Since the school's inception in 1893, EHL dress code has been known for its strict adherence to sober, smart, practical elegance. However, even the best traditions should be sensitive to time and change...
Professional appearance - new parameters
How many times have you heard expressions like “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” or “Your image speaks a thousand words”? Well, when you join EHL, be prepared to hear them some more. In the same way that the words we speak must be sensitive in tone and register according to context, so should the way we dress. EHL’s famous dress code is known the world over for its impeccably smart stamp that communicates professional readiness at all times. However, times they are a-changing, and never more so in terms of individual self-expression, diversity and inclusion. Being ‘impeccably smart’ today is open to interpretation and should be based on new parameters that take into account modern attitudes to gender, culture, religion and diversity in general.
The dress code at the EHL campuses is a big part of students' daily lives, (some students even chose to come to EHL because of the importance put on looking professionally sharp at all times). Whilst still aligned with professional standards, the once very traditional dress code has recently been updated and made more flexible. In fact, since September 2011 it is referred to as EHL 'Professional Appearance' and it encourages students to be the best version of themselves whilst being sensitive to what the specific professional context requires. Some of these recent modifications include a non gender-specific interpretation of professional attire, and the acceptance of more colors, facial hair, jewelry and tattoos as long as discreet and groomed at all times.
The three pillars of EHL's professional appearance:
1. I am aware of the impact of the first impression.
2. I adapt my appearance, attitude, and behavior to the person(s) I am interacting with.
3. My behavior, attitude and appearance fit with the activity, the environment, and events.
The EHL Values Representatives explain
Dress for purpose
'Professional appearance' is EHL's new way of saying 'dress code'. The implication is that we now "dress for" a specific professional purpose, i.e., we interpret what the situation calls for, we up our game where and when necessary.
It’s part of a student’s journey to know how to adapt to the situation and take responsibility for what’s needed; avoid being too casual when the situation requires smart and understand the subtle nuances at play. The EHL guidelines are clearly and extensively laid out, but we also try to leave the students to figure out the subtleties for themselves. Learning auto responsibility is part of their development as young professionals. We, the EHL Values Representatives, support students and staff in their effort to adapt to those guidelines.
Being one's best self
Essentially, these changes to the dress code have come about because people need to feel comfortable in order to be their best selves. And being the best version of yourself is what's required at all times. In making these changes, we wanted to look at the behaviors behind the EHL values: excellence, family, respect, learning and innovation. In other words, being as true to yourself as the context allows.
Admittedly, the previous EHL dress code was not as flexible as now. Now, the look is still professional but certainly more colorful, expressive and sensitive to gender, religion and culture. Small piercings, tattoos and well-kept beards are some of the details allowed for self-expression.
EHL internships and preparatory year
The professional attire is more strictly followed when the students are on internships. For example, the EHL preparatory year uniform remains grey, sober and sharp. But apart from the prep year, there is no strict student uniform policy on our campuses.
Also, logic prevails! For example, during practical teaching periods, where hygiene and safety rules are essential and unavoidable, common sense is required: some pieces of jewelry or attires might need to be adapted or removed.
Reactions to the changes
Reactions to the new professional attire have been interesting. Overall, today's students are delighted to have a bit more wiggle room in which to express themselves within the framework we set . The gender-neutral changes have been very warmly received, along with the religious headwear such as kippahs, turbans and headscarves.
Like society itself, our new measures are a work in progress and subject to review periodically to ensure continued alignment with our values and environment.
On the whole, we are happy to encourage our students and staff to share their style with the EHL Community!