Dress to impress?
In an age where job descriptions and locations are becoming increasingly unconventional, deciphering the casual dress code can be tricky.
In a recent survey, the clothing retailer Banana Moon discovered that more than a third of workers would prefer a compulsory uniform to avoid the difficulties of navigating a casual dress code and, with over 20% feeling they had been disciplined for wearing incorrect clothing to work, it’s easy to see why a stricter dress code could seem like the better option.
Traditionally, having a standard uniform within the business can help maintain a sense of professionalism and reduce the chance of inappropriate attire in the workplace and yet over the last three decades, more and more businesses have begun instituting relaxed dress codes to strike a balance between practicality and professional appearance.
Following a growing trend, Goldman Sachs have recently relaxed their notoriously strict dress code to attract younger workers. Office Team, an American staffing service, believe that the influx of the next generation in the workplace is responsible for spurring this on. ‘Millennials have seen Mark Zuckerberg in his T-shirts and jeans, and they believe what you wear does not define how successful you are going to be or whether it will impact business’.
Beyond simply holding a different opinion to previous generations, it is also more important to younger workers that they feel valued as an individual. According to Livestrong.com, allowing employees the discretion to decide on what constitutes appropriate workwear can send positive signals that the company both supports individuality and trusts their employee’s judgement, as well as increasing comfort and confidence.
There’s no perfect way to implement any dress code into a workplace. Too casual and you risk gaining a less than professional reputation, too strict and you risk an adverse effect to morale. Swiss banking company UBS drew ridicule for their 44-page dress code that included everything from how to smell, how to put on clothing, how to shower, and an advisory note to match tie patterns to your facial structure. They later conceded the dress code needed to be more modest and were ‘reviewing what is important’ to them.
The debate between strict and casual dress codes isn’t one likely to be resolved soon as there will always be circumstances and professions under which only one is truly suitable, but with 62% of organisations allowing more relaxed attire at least once a week (Society for Human Resources Management 2015 Employee Benefits Survey), it appears casual Friday is here to stay.