What to wear to work…. Smart or casual?!

what to wear to work

So does it matter what you wear to work?

Within the last 20 years work business codes have begun to soften with companies, large and small across the UK , increasingly starting to abandon the traditional suit and tie for men and skirt or trouser suit for women  in favour of something slightly more relaxed. Often people are confused as to what to wear to work as these corporate dress codes are being stripped away.

This trend is mirrored across the globe and has been fuelled in part by the rise of the culture of working from home, having portfolio careers and the tech boom which has seen the billionaire founders of Facebook, Apple and Twitter, to name but a few, turn up to work in jeans and hoodies. The rise of the millennial generation which now comprises 60% of the working population has also been critical in this shift away from corporate dress codes. The job market is increasingly competitive and companies are having to be creative in how they attract the best staff. Many employees, particularly the Millennials, see dressing less formally as a perk.

City financial firm Hymans Robertson has a dress code written in their HR policy which states formal business attire is required but even they do not expect men to wear a tie unless they are seeing clients and they have a dress down day every Friday. US banking giant JP Morgan Chase & Co has now changed its dress policy to business casual clothing.

With this increasing softness of traditional work wear does it therefore matter what you wear? The answer is a resounding yes. When we are dressing for work we are selling ourselves – both internally and externally to colleagues, bosses and current and potential clients. Therefore it is critical that we dress appropriately for what is expected of our industry and in line with the expectations of the client . A solicitor should still be relatively formal, a web designer relatively casual, a stylist quite stylish and a plumber wearing something with a company logo on. One study has shown that 55% of our impact is visual based on our appearance and body language, 38% is our voice and only 7% is our words or what we are actually saying. Subliminally, when people meet us they are assessing us and making a judgement and as the study shows it is critical that the visual appearance is correct…  more important than the content of what we are actually saying. An impression is made in a matter of seconds and is very hard to overturn that initial first impression.  Clothing should also be flattering, up to date and good grooming is critical regardless of industry. A decent hairstyle, trimmed beard, neat nails, polished shoes and no underwear showing are all still very important whatever the job you are doing and the sector you are in.

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