Suits you? New survey reveals wholesale shift in dress codes at work

22nd November 2018

A survey of 900 commercial property professionals has thrown up some intriguing attitudes to modern workplace dress codes.

The poll, by Nottingham-based commercial property specialists NG Chartered Surveyors, shows that the suit may have had its day when it comes to regular officewear, with only 41% of those surveyed saying that they wear a suit to work on a daily basis.

However, when it comes to landing a new job, then ‘suited and booted’ reigns supreme. A massive 82% of those asked said they would always turn up smart if they were being interviewed for a new role or promotion, with just 14% saying they would feel comfortable wearing smart/casual clothes.

That ratio weakened a little when property bosses were asked what they would expect interviewees to turn up in. This time, over a quarter (26%) said they would be happy if the applicant for a role wore smart/casual clothes, with 71% insisting on a suit.

Meanwhile, some 71% of respondents said they thought a working wardrobe can affect their image or reputation, but nearly two-thirds (64%) thought that workplace dress codes will become less formal within the next five years.

Richard Sutton, director at NG Chartered Surveyors, said: “There is no doubt that, as offices and working practices change to suit millennials, then attitudes towards dress in the workplace are altering with them. I can clearly remember 15 years ago when I made the conscious decision not to wear a tie to work and my senior partner at the time nearly had a heart attack and couldn’t understand why I would even think of such a rebellious act! God know what he would have made of things now when we wear jeans to work more often than not, even when my jeans cost more than his suit, but then that’s the thing, you either move with the times and changing attitudes or you don’t and you become a dinosaur in your own world.

“Dress codes are now increasingly important to younger people and with the rise of co-working and flexible office space, the need to wear a suit five days a week is disappearing. Indeed, in some cases, a suit can be off-putting to a potential client and we’re seeing more and more property companies relaxing their dress codes. The RICS keep asking how they can make the profession appear  ‘cool’ and appealing in the 21st Century; still putting pressure on people to conform, to be suited and booted at all times just doesn’t do it for anyone, old or young.

Richard says that the working day is changing along with dress codes. Now, he says, it  probably doesn’t begin at 9am and end at 5pm, and, like  traditional office dress codes, the concept of the working day has radically altered since the start of the 21st century.

He added: “It was certainly simpler when the work place uniform consisted of a suit, shirt and tie. Now your day-to-day wardrobe needs to be smart, sophisticated and adaptable. The modern office worker now  dresses in a way that works equally as well for casual daywear as for evening ahead.

“We think the battle for talent will see this trend increase, something which our survey points to. Business strategies working practices are changing – and with them, the way people dress for work. Companies will need to keep pace with these trends if they’re not to be left behind. We are all grown ups operating in a business environment that moves really quickly even though our product doesn’t. The advances in technology, the new styles of collaborative hub style offices simply don’t sit comfortably with old school dress codes.”

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