Offices are the places we work, socialize and spend a major part of our day to earn a living. And the way most of us approach office wear today is changing.
The age of smartphones, fast millennial fashion & an attitude to keep them things relaxed & more accommodating has changed our office dress code drastically in recent years. We have become more casual and have steered away from strict cold corporate styles. Yes, this is the age of the Uber-cool styles.
More and more people are dressing down for the office in comfortable clothing instead of dressing up too formally. The influx of the newer generation has brought a much more different outlook on work wear. As more and more millennials enter the work force, casual outfits keep becoming the rage. If you have any doubts, just take a look at the super millennial Mark Zuckerberg. His tech background is also a factor to be noted when it comes to his style.
Office Dress Code is Now More Relaxed
Regardless of the industry though, a research survey by the Office Team revealed that it’s just not stylish to dress up for work anymore.
50% of the senior managers who were interviewed in the survey admitted that their employees prefer less formal clothing than their peers from five years ago.
47% said that their workers were dressed “too casually.” Also, 37% of the managers believed that much more skin was being shown by the employees.
This change is taking place not just in creative industries but even in investment companies like J.P Morgan, Chase & Co.
Moving away from the boring & conventional business suits, they now allow their employees to wear business casual clothing, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Office Team’s district president in LA, Brandi Britton, spoke to the LA Times on loosening your collar situation.
One of the first things she pointed out was that the job market today is highly competitive which makes it hard for companies to attract the right employees. To stand out in the market as a progressive workplace, a more liberal approach to the dress code has its own benefits for the enterprise. This is because employees today highly value the perks of being allowed to dress less formally.
Employees Prefer Business Casual
As per Britton’s clarification, most people do agree on wearing suits but that attire is not their preferred choice for work. The current workforce, of which over 60% are Millennials wish to invest less time, effort and money on corporate wear. They want to find dressing options that are a bit more appealing.
Secondly, the professional dressing trend is leaning more towards casual even in customer services. In the past, you would have appeared in your best suit, but this approach may not work today. In fact, it could make the customer feel uncomfortable and uptight. Formally dressed customer representatives can make a dominating and aggressive impression on the client, and this is not what most companies want.
It is important to note that although Millennials do play a huge role in this change, it is ultimately the upper management that is making it happen, for they too appreciate a less formal style of dressing for work.
In a survey done by the Office Team of individuals, 58% of participants which included many older generations like baby boomers and gen-xers, actually desired business casual or casual code of dressing. When more than half of the workforce are inclined towards a particular style, then employers have to definitely take note.
The economic situation of the market also contributes to this change. During good economic times, the market is more employee-driven, and casual dressing proliferates. On the other hand, people go back to wearing formal suits in tougher economic times because everyone is in need of a job.
What actually happens in more challenging financial times is that there are more people than there are jobs, so the employees are willing to do whatever that is needed to get hired. However, in better times there are more jobs than there are people available. Companies want to attract suitable employees and to make this happen, they need to do what the employees want.
How to Look Polished in a Business Casual
The business casual that most companies want is not the same as your general casual or weekend casual. While there is a lot more room for employees to incorporate fashionable looks of the season, it doesn’t allow jeans, flip flops, showing too much skin, clothes that are too loose or too tight, flashy colors and distracting silhouettes.
Because there is a lack of understanding of the term ‘business casual,’ most companies lay out proper guidelines for their employees. That’s right. JP Morgan and other companies did educate their employees through company memos to clarify that what is appropriate and acceptable in their industry.
Specific guidelines are also a must in international or country wide firms. Similarly, the interpretation of the term business casual has a lot to do with geography and culture. What might be acceptable in LA would be a bit underdressed for New York.
While many young firms, especially small and medium sized businesses often have their owners dictate what is allowed in the office, more of those and multi nationals are allowing more space for the employees to make that decision as they believe that it may keep them around longer. Not to forget, casual dressing can foster their creativity too.