I am curious about how others feel regarding a mandatory uniform for employees. I have been to many coffee shops in the PDX (portland, oregon) area that have a really cool vibe and style about them. The Baristas are very "hipster" like in style, yet still well-groomed. I really want this for my coffee shop but how does one state that in their dress code?
You don't. The place where I work has no specific stated dress code aside from that employees must appear "clean". The last place I worked had little in the way of dress code aside from "clean, not ripped or dirty jeans or slacks (not sweatpants, etc.), or a skirt not above the knee".
The best dress code is one where employees are allowed to feel comfortable in their own clothing, I think. When given a chance to present themselves professionally, and allowed that freedom, most people will take at least a small amount of pride in their own appearance. You might be surprised how very rarely it's necessary to remind people to appear "clean" as most reasonable human beings will do so of their own volition.
Personally, I think no ripped or dirty clothing and a generally clean appearance is all that should be necessary to state, if that. Everything else can be enforced on a case-by-case basis.
It really depends on the kind of operation you are trying to run. What may be "very well groomed" to you is probably "disheveled and dirty looking" to someone else.
By necessity, dress codes should be explicit in how you want your staff to look. Ambiguity is a recipe for disaster.
I'm with Evan on this one. Keep your rules as simple as possible and leave some freedom for people to feel comfortable. Just make sure to figure out what's unacceptable to you (torn clothes, logos, whatever it might be) and be very clear about those things up front.
My old shop specifically prohibited logo t-shirts that were just big product ads, and had an unspoken expectation of basic cleanliness - that was pretty much it. Each barista had his or her own unique style and that was part of what made our customers feel like they knew us - we didn't just look like homogenous robots.
As for getting a certain look (hipster, etc) I think you just have to hire people who already go for that look. That's the sort of thing that looks ridiculous if you try to force it by making people wear outfits they wouldn't normally wear. You can't make a "hipster uniform" and achieve the hipster effect - gotta have actual hipsters (or at the very least wannabe hipsters!)
I say no to uniforms, do-rags, toboggans or multiple piercings/tattoos that are clearly visible. What's comfortable can be clean and professional looking.
We are allowed to wear whatever we want. Within reason. No large facial piercings (and by that, I mean the head has to be less than 1/8th of an inch), hair out of your face, no torn up jeans and a shirt with sleeves. Nice and clean, but individuality is encouraged.