The New Casual

Which is the right Office Outfit? A studio from Dockers will tell us

Formal jacket and tie or casual shirt and slack? White collars from European companies seem to be more and more intolerant towards workplace ‘uniforms. This is what emerged from a study carried out by the Spanish company ‘We Are Testers’ for ‘Dockers’.

It turns out that 34% of Europeans believe that the formal dress is among one of the 3 most unfashionable outfits to go to the office. What is preferred today, is a great attention in choosing their outfit, whether it be formal or casual. But not all the companies are ready to embrace this change. It’s been 30 years since the American label introduced Casual Fridays, with a guide for informal clothing that could be worn to the office on Fridays, sent to 25.000 HR Managers in the United States. 

Today it was time to assess the situation, through a survey that involved 1.600 workers: managers, employees and professionals between 18 and 40 years of age, interviewed last Autumn in France, Spain, Great Britain and Turkey. It is time to assess the situation. The extensive research promoted by Dockers gives the portrait of an age and taste mixed society, with one fundamental common point: classic formal clothing is no longer (or should not be) the key to access to top positions in the company.

If allowed to choose, only 17% of the surveyed Millennials said they would wear a formal suit, while as many as 34% of the sample, including the over-40s, consider this kind of outfit one out of the three most unfashionable outfit to go to work. Moreover, three out of four of the interviewed thinks that the absence of a specific dress code would be an additional incentive to work for a company. Actually, it seems that even companies searching for new staff are no longer considering formal suit as an essential element for candidate selection: “In the interview it is always welcome a clothing that reveals reliability and seriousness. So, jacket and tie are not as important as the care and attention you put into dressing, especially for creative professions,” they explain at Article1, a company specializing in the selection of professional figures for public sector and fashion.

At the end of the day, the challenge is more and more reducing the boundaries between formal and informal, finding new balances. But habits are difficult to eradicate and, in many cases, formal “uniform” at work is still a must. As the research shows, in fact, a quarter of the interviewed still wear it every day and another quarter do it often. This means that half of the research sample is still tied into the clichés of tradition.

This is because for many companies it is still difficult to change their minds: six out of ten companies still require the use of jacket and tie at least on occasions such as meetings, summit meetings, customer presentations, while 33.7% require it at all times. However, these statistics are ‘mitigated’ by 39.3% of companies that do not apply any dress code today.

Particularly, in France just over half of companies have no internal rules concerning dress code, while in the much stricter Turkey only 28.4% of companies are prepared to accept a casually dressed employee enters the office. Therefore, pointers are not unique but the lower the age of the interviewed, the more is strong the annoyance with the “uniform” constraints. “The change of pace in the style is clearly driven by the under 40s,” explains Joan Calabria, marketing director of Dockers Europe. After the 2008 recession, the collapse of the banking system and the subprime crisis in the United States, this generation shows in every way its rejection of the establishment, of which the formal suit is a symbol.

So, no surprise that a significant part of the surveying sample, the thirty years old or so, believes that the absence of a corporate formal dress code makes you happier and more productive.