Tie One On

"...While casual dress might work in Silicon Valley, studies show that people are more trusting and have more positive opinions of people in professional dress, so it really could harm your image if your workers are dressed for the beach rather than the conference room. Additionally, other research shows that the way we dress actually impacts our performance, so casually dressed employees might not perform to the same heights as those in professional attire.

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by Jon W. Sparks via Inside Memphis Business

A recent U.K. study found that only 1 in 10 people now wear a business suit to work. Meanwhile, 3 out of 4 workers say that they ‘dress down’ every day. And, 69 percent of the surveyed employees say that they are more concerned with dressing comfortably rather than dressing for success. Other recent studies on American sartorial choices show similar results, that we are eschewing suits and heels and instead reaching for yoga pants and comfy shoes when we dress for the office.

With a certain air of disapproval, Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert says, “Casual Friday is no longer just a once-a-week affair. Now it’s more common to see men wearing button down shirts and chinos rather than business suits, and women in leggings and tunics instead of blouses and skirts.”

He blames tech moguls like Steve Jobs for the trend. “They proved that you don’t have to wear a business suit to make millions. You can wear jeans and a T-shirt and still be a CEO,” he says. “Additionally, the new remote-employee trend means that many workers are now Skyping into meetings or working half-days, so they are less likely to put on that power suit.”

It’s a troubling trend, Wilson says. “What I have seen is that many employers don’t know how to approach the issue of a dress code. They want to be politically correct and they are afraid of being accused of being sexist or inappropriate, so they say nothing. Meanwhile, workers dress more and more casually. It’s important to nip this in the bud or you are going to wind up with employees wearing flip-flops when they meet with your clients. While casual dress might work in Silicon Valley, studies show that people are more trusting and have more positive opinions of people in professional dress, so it really could harm your image if your workers are dressed for the beach rather than the conference room. Additionally, other research shows that the way we dress actually impacts our performance, so casually dressed employees might not perform to the same heights as those in professional attire.”

He says employers and HR managers need to be sure that dress codes don’t use gendered language and that the rules are equal for men and women. “It’s also important to consider political messages on T-shirts and pins. You want your office to be a place for work, not a place for political debates.”