The Future of Business Attire

Business attire

Gone are the days where everyone wears suits and ties to work or a pencil skirt and sharp jacket. We’ve come into an era where a CEO is just as likely to show up to work in jeans and a t-shirt as they are to wear a full suit. These trends have shifted in recent years as companies offer incentives like jeans days on Friday and casual business attire as the dress code. Additionally, more and more employees work from home meaning they can show up to “work” in anything they want.

It’s true that except for a handful of industries, most businesses are evolving their dress codes for today. What does this mean for productivity? Very little. Some schools of thought are that jeans and casual wear make people less productive at work, but research shows that in some areas it’s the opposite. Employees in certain industries would rather have a corporate policy that allows them to dress down than extra money in their pocket. These policies allow employees to use their home clothes for work, thus getting more mileage out of their wardrobe instead of purchasing distinct clothes for each realm.

Other researchers argue that employees who dress up “feel” more the part and have more confidence in what they do. These reports are based on people like doctors and athletes self-reporting that they feel better in their work uniform. But it may be that their uniform helps them separate work-life from home-life. While industries like law and finance tend to have a formal business attire culture, tech and other industries are moving to more casual work environments. You’re more likely to see computer programmers in jeans and a clean t-shirt than you are a lawyer. Additionally, other industries have uniforms and require special clothes, such as in healthcare.


What are some of the trends to be aware of and how can you adopt some of these policies for your business?

Business Casual

In short, business casual attire is associated with employees wearing khakis or dress slacks and a nice shirt. For men this usually means a polo or button up and for women it means pants, skirt, dress, and a nice blouse or polo. Some industries have their employee wear khakis and the same color shirt to create uniformity without it being too rigid. In these environments, a t-shirt of the right color might be allowed under a business casual dress code as well.


Casual Work Attire

While most people associate this with jeans and t-shirts, there is still a bit of being dressed up a little expected here. Jeans, khakis, and dress slacks may be worn with less formal shoes. Women would be more likely to dress up a pair of leggings and oversized sweaters or wear a pair of jeans with a nicer shirt. The goal with casual clothes isn’t to look like you’re going to the gym, but to be more comfortable in your clothes. Casual work environments still require a level of neat and clean outfits but are more relaxed than business casual.


Dressed Down Casual

There are some companies who allow staff to come to work in shorts, comfortable walking sandals, and t-shirts. You may have visions of beachgoers just hopping over to work for a bit. In these casual work environments, almost anything is acceptable. Typically, staff aren’t allowed to wear bathing suits and they must have pants and shirts that cover a certain length. But other than that, these dressed down environments are pretty relaxed.


What does this mean for you?

It all depends on your industry. While healthcare, legal, political, and finance sectors still adhere to very formal workplaces, other industries can easily adopt a more casual work environment. If you’re already offering jeans days on Fridays without issues, it wouldn’t be tough to create dress code policies that allow staff more flexibility in what they wear to work. Most employers care less about what their people wear and more about how well they work. If the clothes don’t make your staff work less on Fridays, then they are probably okay to wear those clothes everyday if they want.

With the future of remote work changing rapidly, many companies are addressing their dress code policies. Where possible, companies now allow more flexibility in what employees wear as long as they are neat, clean and do their work with excellence.