According to a survey of 422 senior managers and directors across the UK, there has been a marked relaxation in our attitudes toward dress codes at work in recent years. Fewer than a quarter of employers now require their staff to dress formally at all times – whereas over half allow them to wear smart-casual attire, only requiring them to don a suit for business meetings.
The survey also found that while most people still want to appear professional, they no longer equate this with wearing a suit – 66% of respondents now believe that smart-casual is the most appropriate dress code for everyday work-wear. However, there are limits: a casual dress code (i.e. jeans and trainers) is still generally frowned upon – even when offices have brought in this policy, two-thirds of employees claim to disagree with it.
Of course there are significant differences between sectors. Almost half of those working in financial services are still required to wear a suit at all times, whereas those reprobates in the media are much slacker; a quarter of them get away with wearing jeans, trainers and t-shirts to work (we like to think we have the gravitas to carry it off, though).
The good news for the sartorially self-conscious (not to mention scruffy ‘meeja’ types) is that we don’t judge each other on our appearances as much as we used to. According to the survey, a surprisingly high 45% of respondents thought that visible tattoos were fine in the office (though presumably we’re not talking about a Mike Tyson-esque monstrosity here), while 40% thought facial piercings were acceptable. And somewhat less surprisingly, a whopping 84% consider flips-flops to be unacceptable. They really had to ask?
But the worst news of all for all those wacky office jokers out there: ties with jokey or cartoon motifs are out. 53% of respondents insist that these items should be banished from the office completely and replaced with something more sober. So think twice before reaching for that Homer Simpson dicky-bow: if the fashion police don’t get you, your co-workers might...