By Simone Lockhart


The way that the modern world works has changed drastically in terms of how, when and where we work, but that also stretches to what we wear.

If large corporations are recognising that employees don’t need to be physically be present in the office from 9am to 5pm five days a week to get the job done to a high standard, this could mean a dress code policy could be equally as relaxed or redundant. This ultimately begs the question – is the corporate office suit dead?

Changes were already taking place pre-pandemic, and there have always been industries and sectors with a more relaxed approach to office attire beyond casual Fridays. However, now with a couple of years working from home for many, this has accelerated significantly. Moving forward, businesses may need to outline what is acceptable to wear for work to strike the balance between what is suitable when at home and if that should be adapted for a face-to-face environment.

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I personally love the move away from the tailored, stiff, corporate look where we all pretty much dressed the same. It’s great to see more individuality and self-expression from colleagues and clients alike, while retaining a look of professionalism where required. However, this can arguably add pressure to colleagues who feel the need to compete in a personal style challenge.

Without going back to the old-fashioned dress code policy, business leaders should simply remove the uncertainty by letting people know what is expected – set some basic ground rules and maybe even define the illusive "smart casual" term once and for all.

This is relevant to all businesses and employees so defined guidance would be really helpful, especially while recruiting. Letting candidates know your dress code will help them prepare better for interview.

Looking at images of staff on company websites can help but it is important that these have been updated to reflect any recent changes. It doesn’t make the best first impression to arrive "suited and booted" to be met with a hiring manager wearing jeans, or indeed vice-versa. Looking the part will help candidates feel more relaxed and perform more naturally.

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Across all of our recruitment businesses the team always prepares candidates for interview through discussion of the role, company and culture, but increasingly they also provide interview dress code guidance. Working with clients in financial and professional services is where they have seen the biggest pivot from formal suits to more relaxed attire.

The way we work has changed and dress code is part of that. Why not involve staff in defining new guidance, which will help ensure you are in tune with your people and how they see the future of dressing for work.

Simone Lockhart, commercial director of the Taranata Group, is a guest writer on behalf of s1jobs.