How we dress for work is changing

More and more companies are swapping suits and shirts for jeans and t-shirts.  In our office building in Stockport, it’s pretty rare we’ll share the lift with anyone in a tie, or other formal business attire.

Workplace dress codes have hit the headlines recently as they often impose stricter guidelines on women than on men.  But don’t write off the office dress code just yet – there’s some evidence that points to it being better for business.

A number of studies into uniforms suggest that they not only make it easier for co-workers to feel like a team, but they also convey more respect and knowledge to customers, and boost employees’ own opinions of their abilities.  Anecdotally, many people argue that dressing up for work, be that putting on a suit, a company uniform, or simply making a bit more of an effort to look smart helps to get you in the right frame of mind to work.

When it comes to simply whether or not you should dress casually to do your work better, the jury is still out. Some research suggests that a more relaxed dress code means a more relaxed work environment where less gets done: other studies seem to say the opposite.

When there are high profile campaigns to stop companies enforcing unfair or unreasonable demands on the way staff look – namely requiring women to wear high heels and make up, but having no similar requirements for men – it seems like the office dress code might have had its day.  But that doesn’t mean we’re all going to be turning up for work looking more ready for a quiet night in front of the TV. Your appearance can still make a difference to your work.

Whether or not your appearance affects your work comes down to what job you do.  If you’re working on the phone, as long as your telephone manner remains professional the customers you deal with wouldn’t notice if you had come to work in pyjamas.  But would you trust a sales rep that came to an appointment in a t-shirt and shorts? How would you feel about your GP wearing track suit bottoms around the surgery?

What you wear matters hugely when it comes to first impressions.  And if first impressions count in your job, then what you wear probably does too.