Why we've turned our back on formal dress codes

over 1 year ago by Jessica Brown

Why we've turned our back on formal dress codes


At Goodman Masson, we've championed dress down Fridays for years. Allowing our employees to avoid the morning rush of finding something, anything, smart and clean at the end of the week, whilst also raising a bit of cash for our favourite charities, dress down Fridays came with the excited nostalgia of school own clothes days.

Last year however, we realized that one day just wasn't enough. Moving with the times we switched our dress code for good and ushered in a new era of polo shirts and jumpers.

Following the 'Mark Zuckerberg effect', a term coined by Anne Killian, Communications Associate at IFEBP, we aren't the only ones to do so, with research conducted by Travelodge, finding that "only 50% of workplaces now have a formal dress code, and of those that do, 76% only insist on casual dress." After all, if Zuckerberg can create a multi-billion pound empire in jeans and a hoodie, why can't we do it in chinos?

With our CEO, Guy Hayward, writing, "joining the House of Commons, who've also ditched the ties, it's nice to have one less thing to worry about in the morning", this new move has more positives than negatives. With a workforce from the age of 18, we don't want new recruits spending their very first pay cheque on designer suits, which will only see the inside of an office. Similarly, only changing into your best gear when meeting a client means we've cut down significantly on our employee's dry cleaning expenses.

Karen Pine, Psychologist at Hertfordshire University, puts dress code transitions into the same realm, as a shift in work place hierarchy, an idea we can see in practice, with 60% of employees thinking casual dress has made colleagues friendlier to each other.

It's not surprising then that around 2/3rds of financial services employees are now allowed to wear casual dress on a Friday. Fitting perfectly into Killian's Silicon Valley notion, JP Morgan switched to a business casual policy, after CEO Jamie Dimon returned from the valley, with the thought that their current rules were out of date.

A procession of Barclays CEO's have also had a significant impact on the way their employees dress, jumping from 'brash' with Ricci, to 'tech-casual' when Jenkins was in charge and now seeing staff dressing 'old-school' and 'American' with McFarlane.

The constant change seen within Barclays, is evidence that you can't please everybody externally all of the time, so with half of the city dressing down, why not please your employees internally. And with 69% believing that dressing casually makes them more comfortable and productive, we can't see our relaxed wardrobe going anywhere.