Is Dress For Success a Thing of the Past?
It’s 2020 and more and more companies are deciding they don’t need or want to tell adults how to dress. A new wave of “dress for your day” initiatives were rolled out by Fortune 500 companies last year pushed by the large number of millennials in the workplace. Being comfortable is becoming the standard in business attire for any number of growing reasons.
But what about the brown-noser who dresses in a shirt and tie every day in complete disregard of the business casual trend? Is he on track for a big promotion while you, sporting your comfy jeans and sweatshirt, are left behind?
Not exactly. Today’s adaptation of “dress for success” is less about power suits and more about how your clothes make you feel. Whether its sneakers or high heels, clothing that helps make you feel confident can affect the way you view the world. And in turn, the way the world views you. A confident person may perform their job responsibilities better and therefore appear more competent. And confidence can give you the power to ask for what you want, like a promotion or a raise. Others’ perceptions of you are influenced by your outward appearance and your demeanor which may work in your favor as well.
Studies have shown that attire can strongly influence a person’s perception of your trustworthiness, intelligence, success, and even suitability for advancement. A white lab coat worn by test subjects gave them the confidence to perform better on sample tests. While men in suits negotiated more successfully than casually dressed test subjects. So if what we wear to work affects how we act and how others perceive us, why are we not all wearing power suits to the office?
Do These Jeans Make My Productivity Look Bigger?
Flexible attire promotes a more casual office environment which many experts say can promote a higher level of comfort and contentment. If morale is high, then employees are more productive, willing to collaborate, and are thinking more creatively to produce higher-quality work. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says “wearing casual clothes is one less thing to think about so he can focus on important workplace decisions.” A recent study supports his belief, stating “61% of employees are more productive when the dress code is relaxed.”
The trend toward a more relaxed dress code in corporate America is a signal that companies are focusing more on employees. With 40% of the workforce now composed of Gen Z and millennials, it’s not surprising to see this loosening of dress codes. In fact, the 2018 benefits report published by the Society for Human Resource Management found that half of all firms surveyed have a casual dress code every day, up from 18% in 2014. Many companies are using dress codes as a recruitment tool as well. The younger workforce is not keen to be told what to wear as clothing is reflective of their identity and lifestyle choices.
33% of workers say they would quit their job or turn down a job offer if the company had a conservative dress code.
I Don’t Know What To Wear!
Well, that depends on your company’s dress code, or lack thereof. The general consensus is to wear what you feel comfortable and confident in. Certainly if you are meeting with a client, use your best judgement and don something appropriate to their dress code, not yours. You can’t go wrong with a workplace wardrobe that is polished, modern, and age-appropriate. Most experts also believe that interviews require business attire or business casual at the least depending on the dress code of the company you are interviewing with.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb no matter which end of the spectrum you’re on. Now, go put some clothes on and get to work!
What is your preferred attire for work? Do you think clothing can make you more or less productive?