Workplace Dress Taking a Casual Turn

November 7, 2006 ( - Wearing suits to work is losing ground to a more casual dress code, perhaps to the detriment of worker career advancement, a survey from Yahoo! Hot Jobs and Banana Republic suggests.

SHRM reports the Dress in the Workplace survey found only 12% of men said they wear a suit to work, only 6% of women said they wear a skirt suit, and only 13% of women wear a pants suit. More popular work attire included collared shirts and dress slacks (47%), followed by jeans and a comfortable top (37%).

Men and women were nearly split over casual and business casual work attire, with 42% of men and 39% of women saying they throw on jeans or whatever is comfortable, and 37% of both men and women saying they opt for business casual, the survey found, according to SHRM.

The “casual Friday” workday has bled over into other workdays for 32% of workers and 25% of recruiters, who say that everyday is a casual workday. Twenty-five percent of workers and nearly 45% of recruiters say their employers reserve Fridays as a day for casual dress. Still some surveyed say their employers do not allow casual dress days, with 26% of workers and 12.6% of recruiters saying that is the case.

Eleven percent of workers surveyed said their workplace looked like a bank, while 5% said their coworkers look like they are going to a Monster truck rally. Just more than half (53%) of workers said their company did not have a dress code at all, but 33% said the code is strictly enforced, and 14% said a code probably exists but no one cares.

Of survey respondents, 55% of men and 45% of women surveyed worked in industries where more casual dress standards were required, such as technology/telecommunications; non-profit organizations or customer service; manufacturing/operations or health care.

Employees may enjoy dressing more casually, but it might hurt their chances of moving up in their careers, the survey suggested, as recruiters surveyed said that it might not hurt to dress like the boss. A previous report on the survey revealed that nearly three-fourths (73%) of recruiters surveyed said supervisors have more respect for workers who emulate the way they dress (See View of Appropriate Work Attire Becoming More Skewed ); however, nearly the same amount (65%) of workers disagree.

The survey was conducted in June and based on 2,198 responses. In addition, 902 job recruiters were polled online.