Casual dress codes popular among employees, survey shows

Half of managers say worker attire is less formal than five years ago

Posted June 15, 2016

Dressing up for work continues to go out of style, new research from OfficeTeam shows. Half (50 percent) of senior managers interviewed said employees wear less formal clothing than they did five years ago. In addition, nearly one-third (31 percent) of office workers stated they would prefer to be at a company with a business casual dress code; 27 percent favor a casual dress code or no dress code at all.

But there are limits to what passes as acceptable office attire. Senior managers report dress code violations at work such as wearing overly casual clothing and showing too much skin.

Senior managers were asked, "Do you think employees at your company dress more or less formally than they did five years ago?" Their responses:

  • Much more formally — 7 percent
  • Somewhat more formally — 10 percent
  • No more or less formally — 33 percent
  • Somewhat less formally — 32 percent
  • Much less formally — 18 percent

Workers were asked, "Which of the following statements most closely describes how a company's dress code impacts your decision to work there?" Their responses:

  • I would prefer to work at a company that has a formal dress code — 18 percent
  • I would prefer to work at a company that has a business casual dress code — 31 percent
  • I would prefer to work at a company that has a casual dress code or no dress code — 27 percent
  • A company's dress code doesn't impact my decision to work there — 23 percent

Senior managers were also asked, "Which of the following is the most common dress code violation at your company?" Their responses:

  • Dressing too casually — 47 percent
  • Showing too much skin — 32 percent
  • Having visible tattoos or piercings — 6 percent
  • Having ungroomed facial hair — 5 percent
  • Having excessive accessories — 4 percent
  • Having extreme hair colors/styles — 3 percent

OfficeTeam offers seven questions employees should ask themselves when choosing what to wear for work:

  1. Does this follow company policy? If there's a written dress code, abide by it. Also consider what your manager and coworkers wear, and use that information to guide your choices.
  2. Am I revealing too much? If you have to ask yourself this question, the answer is likely “yes.” Avoid clothes that show too much skin, and err on the side of caution when displaying tattoos or piercings.
  3. Is this distracting? Wearing wild or bright prints can attract attention for the wrong reasons. In most workplaces, neutral colors and simple patterns, such as pinstripes, are a safe bet.
  4. Am I overdoing it? Take a subtle approach to jewelry, makeup, perfume, and cologne. Also note that unconventional hair colors or styles and unkempt facial hair may be frowned upon at more conservative companies.
  5. Do I feel confident? If you're uncomfortable in your outfit, it'll show. Make sure your clothes fit well and don't require a lot of readjusting.
  6. Will I offend anyone? Steer clear of wearing apparel with profanity, political statements, or other questionable material.
  7. Does it pass the final check? Give yourself a once-over from head to toe. Look out for wrinkled, torn or stained garments and scuffed shoes.

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