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Dress Code: Is Corporate Dress Code Dead?

Are the power suits losing their power? Formal dressing at work was the norm back in the 80s and 90s. But over the years, many companies including the more traditional ones have begun a shift towards more casual work attires. In a 2015 survey in the U.S., casual work wear was allowed in more than 62% of business across the nation. Casual dressing was allowed in 36% of companies every day.  

You are what you wear!  

Many studies show what you wear can influence how you feel or think! Power dressing is linked to social status. The upper class is denoted by business suit and lower by sweat pants, according to a 2014 study. Those who dressed in business suits felt confident and good about themselves and also fared better in tests on negotiation skills.  

Dressing formally also improved abstract thinking and leadership qualities according to another study. Testosterone, the dominant male hormone, levels were lower in those who dressed in sweatshirts according to this study.  

Companies that have moved to casual work attire  

The most notable changes have come from PwC and JPMorgan Chase & Co. These companies believe when they are hiring smart people to handle tough tasks, it is really unnecessary to tell them how to dress.  

Nationwide now allows jeans to be worn in the office in a drastic shift from conservative attires. The company policy is based on the feedback they received from their associates. Staff who are not engaged in “face to face interactions” with partners or members are allowed to wear “well maintained, work-appropriate jeans”.  

Deloitte changed over to smart casuals more than eight years ago. Many companies who would like their employees to feel more comfortable and relaxed at work place are following suit.  

PwC believes letting people dress more casually will help “unlock their creativity and productivity”. The policy makers at PwC believe letting the employees decide what to wear fosters a feeling of trust. And if employees cannot be trusted to dress appropriately, they are not worthy of even being hired, according to one CEO of an Australian firm.  

At State Farm, a U.S. based insurance company, the employees are asked to dress to match the kind of work they do on that day. 

Avoiding discrimination  

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, employers can set dress codes as long as it does not amount to discrimination of any kind. If an employer refuses to hire a person because of a tattoo for roles that do not have any customer contact, it can amount to discrimination. The commission also emphasises that there can be no gender discrimination while making dress codes. For example, ear rings cannot be banned for men while women are allowed to wear them.  

The increasing trend in the corporate world is towards balancing the work attire with the nature of work done on a particular day.  

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