Today, I want to show you a model answer for an IELTS writing task 2 question about dress codes. That means what people wear when they’re at work. In this lesson, you will see how to write a good essay and also learn some useful language.

Let’s dive in!

Analysing the Question

First of all, here’s our question for today:

Some people think that employers should not care about the way their employees dress because what matters is the quality of their work.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

What we have is an agree or disagree question and the statement is about whether workplaces should implement some sort of dress code.

The word “dress code” does not appear in the question but that’s still the topic. It is stated in slightly more common language, so that all candidates can understand it. Dress code means:

a set of rules about clothing and appearance in a school or place of work

(Source: Cambridge Dictionary)

Ultimately, you need to decide whether you agree or disagree that employers should allow employees to dress as they wish.

Planning Your Answer

In my essay, I am going to argue that some sort of dress code is appropriate. In other words, I disagree with the statement that appeared in the above question.

My essay will look like this:

IntroductionIntroduce the topic
Give my opinion (disagreement)
Body paragraph #1Concession paragraph
Body paragraph #2Give my reasons:
1) safety and hygiene
2) employee recognition
3) adhering to social and cultural norms
ConclusionSummarise the essay

This is a four-paragraph essay structure, which I typically recommend. You can write five paragraphs if you want, but I find that four is better. You can read a discussion of this issue here.

Also, you may wonder what a concession paragraph is. Basically, it’s a paragraph that admits the opposite of your main argument. I like to occasionally include these as it shows the ability to look at both sides of an issue. Also, I think it’s good to show that an issue is complex.

Note that I have a full introduction that provides my opinion in the outline sentence. This is essential for a good score.

In terms of the reasons supporting my argument, I have picked them carefully in order to be sensible and believable. A lot of IELTS candidates say really outrageous things. Sometimes this is due to a lack of language or sometimes it is due to personal or cultural factors. For example, they might say “A person wearing baggy clothes will die in an accident.” This is not 100% guaranteed to happen, so it’s not correct. You would need to phrase it more carefully: “A person wearing baggy clothes might be at risk of being injured or even killed if they go too near a machine.” Always make sure that your ideas are reasonable. Ask yourself whether someone could easily disprove them and then write 1-2 sentences that make them more believable if needed.


This essay is at the intersection of two common IELTS topics: work and clothing. It would be good to show that you have knowledge of both these areas by using appropriate vocabulary.

Note that there’s no such thing as “advanced IELTS vocabulary” and the examiner does not have a checklist of words they’re waiting to see you use. If an IELTS tutor implies this, you know they are a scammer.

However, you can think of the difference between vague and specific language:

Vague termsSpecific terms
Special company clothesUniform
Safety glassesSafety goggles
Company’s nameLogo/brand
Clothes that are not very tightLoose-fitting clothes

I don’t mean to suggest that the words on the left are wrong because they’re not. These words are perfectly fine to use. However, if you know a more specific term (and it’s correctly used), it is better.

vocabulary related to work dress codes

Here’s some topic-specific language that I will use in my essay:

  • dress code
  • uniform
  • code of formality
  • appearance
  • workplaces
  • reasonable amount of freedom
  • express (one’s) individuality
  • safety and hygiene
  • easily identified
  • public morality
  • scrutiny

Now see if you can find these answers in my essay.

Sample Band 9 Answer

Around the world, employers typically enforce some kind of dress code on their employees, be it a uniform or merely a code of formality. Some people, however, suggest that employers should not have these sorts of rules because it is more important that their staff work effectively. This essay will mostly disagree with that notion.

Admittedly, it is true that the quality of an employee’s work is more important than their appearance and thus it is understandable that some people say workplaces should not have rules concerning workers’ clothing. Indeed, in countries like the United Kingdom, it is normal for certain businesses like bars and music shops to allow their employees a reasonable amount of freedom to choose their own clothes and express their individuality.

However, there are much better reasons to argue that employers should enforce some form of dress code. First of all, there is of course the issue of safety and hygiene. Many workplaces have rules to protect their employees and customers, such as factories or restaurants. Elsewhere, it is important for staff to be easily identified by customers, so a uniform is necessary. For example, supermarkets need their staff to stand out from shoppers so that people can ask them for help. In addition, you have basic public morality, which, although admittedly subjective and constantly in flux, is a genuine concern in all parts of the world. Some types of clothing may be offensive to certain groups of people. It would be reasonable to require an employee to not wear a t-shirt with a swear word on it, for example.

In conclusion, although it does sound reasonable that people should have the right to wear what they want at work, this does not hold up to scrutiny for most workplaces and thus employers should continue to have reasonable rules governing what their employees wear while they work.