A Compelling Business Argument For Sacking Off Strict Dress Codes

strict dress codes

If you’re a business entrepreneur who thinks corporate officewear is the route to professionalism and compliance, you may wish to reconsider. More than 20 per cent of young employees have expressed that the possibility of having to comply with a strict dress code would influence their career choices.

Meanwhile, 18 per cent of those aged 18-24 would consider quitting their job over a strict dress code, compared to 10 per cent of older employees.

A survey carried out by fashion site Style Compare asked 2,000 adults from across the UK about their dress code preferences. They found that strict and corporate codes impacted negatively on morale and productivity.

Across all ages, men were slightly more concerned with the issue than women, with 12% of men considering quitting against 10% of women respectively.


Interestingly, the study called “Is Your Dress Code Driving Away Your Best Employees?” also found that men where two per cent more likely to quit compared to 10 per cent of women. The prospect of wearing full suits, even in the searing heat of the summer, may well be to blame here.

“The most common sartorial stipulation is that employees are required to dress in ‘smart business wear’, but aren’t required to wear ties,” Style Compare writes.

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“Anecdotally, the most common manifestation of ‘smart business wear’ is smart trousers, shirt and smart shoes for men, but for women, it was more about what not to wear.”

As ever, the findings present a pretty strong business case for ridding office spaces of gender stereotypical uniforms and rules, in favour of a casual and less stuffy approach to workwear.

The issue of workplace dress codes has certainly been the topic of much debate after receptionist Nicola Thorp, who worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers, was sent home for refusing to wear high heels. The debate reached Parliament earlier this year, after thousands signed a petition against mandatory gendered dress codes. However, it did not progress beyond this initial discussion,

Recently, presenter Sam Smith leaked some such dress code ‘cans’ and ‘cannots’ that apply to female anchors at the BBC.

Smith claimed that the list sent to employees via email included advice that “skirts should reach to somewhere around your knees – controversial, maybe – but I honestly believe anywhere else is distracting.”

It also advises against presenters having long hair, as “shoulder length and above is easier to cope with.”

How do you feel about being told what to wear on your face, how to wear your hair and how long or short your skirt needs to be? Let us know on social media.

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READ MORE: The Leaked BBC Dress Code For Female Presenters In Full