As the culture in corporate London changes, so does the dress code of its workers. Excluding the big corporate players, the majority of today’s employers tend to favour the smart casual (smasual) look; as it’s believed to encourage a friendlier and more down-to-earth working environment. That being said, there are some industries where it’s still unthinkable to not don a ‘Whistle and Flute’ – that’s a suit for anyone who isn’t familiar with cockney rhyming slang!
Here at Kayman we are firmly in the ‘smasual’ category, but this doesn’t mean that we all wear t-shirts and torn jeans! We all adhere to a professional dress-code and endeavour to be well presented and business-like at all times. Additionally, if any of the Consultants have meetings then they will change it up and go for the more traditional corporate look.
All this got me thinking about the impact of what you wear and whether it can actually affect how you work? I hope you enjoy my findings…
Surely if people are comfier, they’ll be happier and if they’re happier they’ll be more productive…
A large portion of the people I surveyed believe that the option to dress casually allows them to be more comfortable and express themselves; which results in their colleagues getting to know them better. The hot weather was also mentioned a few times – to be fair if it’s 30 degrees outside and the office has a two-bob air conditioner, then you will undoubtedly be uncomfortable in corporate attire.
Robyn, a Web Designer for a successful firm in Finland is firmly in the smasual camp. She suggests, ‘There is plenty else to think and worry about than the clothes you are wearing. As an employee you should be concerned with performing to the best of your ability, and in my role I need the ability to think freely and be creative. Impressing other people with what you wear is totally irrelevant in the workplace that should be saved for your social life.’
In a corporate world, where lots of companies insist on their employees being ‘suited and booted’ a company that has a more relaxed approach to uniform could be a huge attraction for potential employees, which could result in more business and an increase in profits! There is also a theory by brand specialists that it can make the companies brand more memorable as it ‘helps you to stand out from the norm.’
If you wear chinos and a t-shirt at the weekend… and chinos and a t-shirt at work, then you may find it difficult to get into work mode.
Whilst there seems to be lots of benefits associated with smasual attire, it’s not without its faults too. Professor of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and Fashion Psychologist, Dr Karen Pine, believes that if an employee dresses casually, then it could result in them being less alert and focused. “When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear’, so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”
Sadly, we humans are a judgmental race. Combine that with the fact that what you wear says volumes about your role and personality and it seems apparent that how you dress is a LOT more important than most people think! You wouldn’t dress-down for an interview, so why should your colleagues and clients not receive the same respect?
There’s a blurred line between smart attire and home-wear and there is a school of thought that if the worker leans towards the latter, it can tarnish the professional image of the individual and even worse the company!
A little from column A & B:
Wearing what you want (within reason) allows you to express yourself and highlight who you are – this is vital for any creative role.
Social media specialist Heather Clark and I (we’ve never actually met) believe that workers should dress differently for different occasions. She states, ‘For meetings, I will dress smartly for the occasion, but suits are sometimes a little too fancy when someone’s expecting a creative social media type to turn up, so smart with some personality is best for this occasion.’ She went on to explain ‘If a client is a solicitor or similar, then it is appropriate to dress to match their dress code, so as not to appear out of place.’
If it is too much of a leap to change the companies dress-code then I would suggest incorporating a ‘Dress-Down Friday’ – this will provide workers with an opportunity to express themselves and show their colleagues who they really are – it also gives them something to look forward to at the end of the week.
If you found this interesting (or even if you didn’t) then please check these other blogs we have written:
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