‘Smart-casual’ seems to be the general dress-code in most modern offices, but what does it actually mean? Earlier this year, we looked at how dress codes can affect both productivity and perception of a workplace, outlining benefits and disadvantages of having a clear dress-code implemented.

 A new study from Banana Moon looked at how dress-codes can cause stress, uncertainty and problems at work; here are the statistics…

Of the 2,000 employees asked, 53% no longer have the traditional formal, suit-and-tie dress code and 20% of workplaces allow skinny jeans and trainers to be worn. This does have benefits, such as giving employees freedom to be expressive and comfortable in what they wear.

Despite this freedom, it does bring the area for judgement. 36% say they feel judged on what they choose to wear at work, and it can bring the opportunity for comments which may be deemed inappropriate. In fact, 25% of women in the study said they have had inappropriate comments made to them at work about their appearance, which could ultimately affect confidence, happiness and performance at work.

Confusion and uncertainty was also a key trend in the study. When a formal dress code isn’t in place, ‘smart-casual’ or even ‘casual’ may leave employees unsure on what will be deemed acceptable in the office. 39% of respondents say they’d rather have a compulsory uniform than a smart-casual guideline as it would avoid confusion and stress when deciding what to wear in the morning.

24% of men and 21% of women have actually been told off for wearing the ‘wrong’ thing at work. Of course, being told off for wearing flip flops/pyjamas is fine, however a genuine attempt at ‘smart-casual’ being ‘wrong’ may be disheartening, embarrassing and cause further confusion.

Alex Grace, managing director at Banana Moon Clothing, says, ‘Work uniforms have changed dramatically over the years. Whereas it was once expected that employees would wear a suit or formal dress from 9 to 5, the lines are now blurring between what we wear inside and outside the office.

‘While casual dress codes can be more comfortable for employees, it’s still important for employers to define what appropriate office dress looks like. Putting dress code guidelines or a standard uniform in place can be beneficial in reducing confusion in the workplace over what is and isn’t acceptable, and can lead to happier employees in the long run.’


Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our Content Writer.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with a love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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