Does hybrid working spell the end for formal attire?

No suit you sir? As M&S reduces its availability of suits for sale, MT asks if the days of dressing up for the office are over.

by Orianna Rosa Royle
New Yorker magazine cover
New Yorker magazine cover

In December - during Britain’s third national lockdown - New Yorker magazine went viral. Not for a ground-breaking story or its hard-hitting journalism, but rather a relatable cover. The illustration of a woman sitting in front of her laptop wearing a blouse, hoop earrings, lounging shorts and slippers surrounded by mess including takeout boxes, hit home. 

In the last year, the need to dress to impress has faded (at least, from the waist up) with social events cancelled and employees mostly visible through a screen. As a result of not needing to suit up for the office, Marks & Spencer announced in August that it would no longer sell men’s suits in more than half of its bigger stores. Meanwhile, the 122-year-old shirt shop TM Lewin fell into administration in 2020. 

Last summer, analysts at Kantar said that spending on suits was down 89 per cent overall, a result of the “diminished need to wear a suit to the office.” However, with the spotlight on Silicon Valley’s love for jeans and a t-shirt and the introduction of casual Fridays to most offices, the growing acceptance of informal business attire isn’t strictly new. 

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