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Via New York Post : ‘Fake it to make it’ really does help your career

Confidence really is the key to professional success, according to a new study.

Whether you “fake it to make it” or dress for the job you want to have, using confidence-boosting techniques, including how you get dressed, really can help you get ahead in your career.

A study of 2,000 Americans who define themselves as having successful careers finds that 66 percent admit that they’ve had to “fake it to make it” in a professional environment.

The study conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Trunk Club, a Nordstrom-owned personal styling service, examined how successful people have progressed in their careers and the impact of personal style on career development.

The study found that feeling confident is the number one step to getting ahead in your career and how a person dresses is one of the top six factors for career success.

When asked what colors make them feel most confident, respondents reported black made them feel most confident, with blue, red, white and navy rounding out the top five colors.

“Feeling comfortable in your clothing is a simple and easy way to boost your confidence at work,” says Linda Bartman, chief operating officer of Trunk Club. “We found that nearly 60 percent of people have a go-to outfit that boosts their confidence for a big day in the office.”

“When you’re in a well-fitting and flattering outfit, you can’t help but feel capable, and that confidence is apparent to those you work with.”

Many of those surveyed shared that they use their workwear to help them get ahead. Nine in 10 Americans follow the adage about dressing for the job that they want to have.

For those looking to climb the corporate ladder to success, over half (55 percent) have evolved the way they dress to help them appear more professional or get ahead in their careers.

And it comes as no surprise that nearly half (48 percent) say they dress more professionally as they progress in their career.

So, which specific clothing items make people feel more confident and successful at work?

Blazers, dresses and silk blouses top the list with glasses, heels and wool coats following closely behind. And it’s not just professional clothing that makes people feel confident. A favorite pair of jeans topped the list as the most confidence-boosting article of clothing.

“If an office dress code or company culture allows for it, a great pair of well-fitting, dark-wash denim can be a great piece for the office,” Bartman shares. “For women, you can dress up your denim with a great blouse, a blazer or tailored jacket, and statement flats or a classic pump. For men, add a great button-down and a nice leather shoe to look polished in your denim at work.”

Interestingly, the respondents also expressed that a garment’s fabric impacts how professional it looks. Three out of every four respondents believe that certain fabrics look more professional. Top fabrics included silk (71 percent), cashmere (60 percent), satin (47 percent) and wool (43 percent).

“Garments made with high-quality fabrics tend to last longer and wear better throughout the day. When a man wears a high-quality wool suit or sport coat, he doesn’t have to worry about it looking wrinkled and unprofessional at the end of the day,” Bartman adds. “And when you’re not worrying about your outfit, you can spend more time solving problems, building relationships, and bringing value to your company.”

She concludes, “Building outfits for our customers to help them feel confident is what stylists at Trunk Club do every day. They understand it’s about investing in staples that fit you well and make you feel good. If you’re going to be fidgeting with a hemline or worrying about wrinkles, you won’t feel confident and that will impact the way you feel throughout your day. What you wear should serve as the backdrop for the amazing work that you do, which is what will ultimately drive your professional success.”

Via Southern Business Journal : Workplace: Dress for the position you want

I remember as a little girl growing up, my mother’s cousin was a successful businesswoman. We would visit her occasionally and she certainly educated us about business etiquette. She lived in the suburbs of Chicago and I remember visiting her office, which was in a tall skyscraper that seemed to me like it reached up into the clouds. During our visits, she would always take us downtown to an upscale restaurant. Of course, I questioned, which fork do I use? Where do I start? It was then that I learned to start from the outside and work your way in. I was always grateful for the opportunity to learn more about an upscale culture because our family could never afford the fine dining that she had learned about.

I learned a lot from her, but the one thing that I truly remember was this. ”Dress for the position you want.” She explained that you should always strive to excel, grow and keep moving forward. She said you shouldn’t dress for the position you are in, but you should dress for the position you want. When you have an opportunity to climb the ladder, your level of professionalism and the way you present yourself is extremely important. Whether we like it or not, a person’s appearance does affect their success at work. Employees who look unkempt or who wear revealing clothing may have a harder time gaining respect from their colleagues and customers. Your dress says a lot about your character.

Academy Award winner Edith Head says, “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” There’s more truth in this statement than people may think. If we start by dressing like the person we want to be, the success and desire is more likely to follow.

Amy Jen Su, co-founder of Paravis Partners- an executive training and coaching firm, and author of Own the Room, has tips for success. Amy says, “It would be nice if looks didn’t matter at all, but that’s rarely the case. How we show up and deliver our work is as important as the content and it can be heart-breaking to see a person who does good work not succeed because of how they appear.”

Although most workplaces have general guidelines for what to wear in an office setting, the fine line that once separated appropriate and inappropriate-office attire has become a gray area. A small start-up company may choose to conduct business in jeans and a T-shirt, yet that ensemble would be highly frowned upon in a large corporation or executive setting. It is important to dress appropriately for your office, but a powerful professional wardrobe can also lead you down the path to success.

So, how does someone dress for success? Remember to dress for the position you want! We’re all familiar with the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” While we aspire to refrain from snap judgments when meeting new people, we should not assume others will always show us this same courtesy. Studies have long demonstrated that people make a judgment based on their first impression of you within the first seven seconds of interaction. Newer research shows this time frame may be shrinking—along with our attention spans—to a mere five seconds! This means that whether you’re on a job interview, at a business meeting, or attending a networking event, you have just a few seconds to make a good first impression and establish yourself as the successful person you strive to be.

Coco Chanel, the founder of Chanel, once said, “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” If you want to be seen as successful and competent, dress the part. That means dressing impeccably each and every time you walk out that door.

Many of us have heard of, or have experienced, interviewees showing up improperly dressed or groomed. Yet it’s not just the interview or the boardroom that can benefit from a higher standard. You never know who you’ll meet and what opportunities might be missed because you didn’t look professional.

There have been studies that show that people who dress for success have more confidence, feel more powerful, and are more focused on details. More importantly, people perceive well-dressed individuals as leaders, and go to them for support at a faster rate than those not as well dressed.

Facebook’s own Mark Zuckerberg understands the power of dress. He has been famous for sporting plain gray t-shirts, but he understands the power of dressing well. During an important year for Facebook, Zuckerberg made a commitment to wear a tie every day for the entire year. He explained, “My tie was the symbol of how serious and important a year this was and I wore it every day to show this.”

Here are a few tips for dressing for success:

Keep it simple: Wear dark socks with dark pants and shoes. The belt should match or coordinate with shoes. Accessories should be just that: extra. Make sure jewelry and belts are not too showy or distracting. If they overwhelm your outfit you can be sure they’ll overwhelm your personality as well. However, for those plain dresses or outfits, a bold necklace and bracelet may add a little “pop” to make the outfit.

The power suit: Suits and Pencil Skirts: Even back to the mid-1900s, men wore suits and women wore pencil skirts. Pantsuits, dress suits and pencil skirts never go out of style. Men should have a gray, navy and a black suit in their wardrobe. Women should have a gray, navy and black pencil skirt.

Shoes: Men should have brown and black shoes, while women should have brown and black heels. A 2” heel is ideal, as these are the easiest and most professional to walk in. However, a woman can do a lot in red shoes and red shoes just scream power.

Dress for the occasion: If it calls for a black tie on the invitation that means a tuxedo, not a navy suit. If it’s a more casual event but you’re unsure of the attire, wear a jacket regardless. You can never go wrong by being the best-dressed person in the room.

It’s more than just clothing: It’s an essential part of your character and demeanor. So, when in doubt, go all out. You can always remove the jacket to make the dress attire more casual.

Be creative: Although it’s hard to break the childhood rule of wearing white only from Easter to Labor Day, break the rules, be creative and choose white after Labor Day or a sequined top with a little color. As the workplace evolves and dress codes relax, it’s more fun than ever to push your workplace style. Fashion is a creative outlet, so have fun and pair colors like orange and turquoise or yellow and turquoise or even a green with a splash of yellow and navy!

Shop strategically: You don’t have to shop at the high-end stores to look good. Just find a few good men like TJ, Ross and Marshall and you won’t be disappointed (TJ Maxx, Ross Dress for Less, Marshall’s).

Travel options: Narrow your color palette and build outfits around that. Choose silver or gold jewelry and stick with it. Choose black and some accent colors so you can wear that black jacket more than once. This allows you to do more with less.

For those who know me well, my go-to attire is a pencil skirt, red lipstick and high heels, because you can do anything in red heels. I believe there is a saying, “Never underestimate the power of red lipstick and high heels.” This quote is so true because something changes when you put on high heels: you feel tall and powerful and, in some instances. you can put the fear of God into people. So dress for the position you want and never underestimate the power of red lipstick and high heels!

Via Forbes : The Recruiter Rejected Me — Because Of My Outfit

Dear Liz:

I’m job hunting. A few days ago I found an amazing job opportunity online and decided to send out my resume that very second.

The job description was so attractive and when I got to research the company I felt like I could take on every challenge with the values and supportive team they said they had.

I sent my resume to the email address in the job ad. Two hours later my phone rang.

We had a nice 25-minute phone interview. It was amazing speaking with Mary. Whenever I answered one of her questions she said, “Wow, that’s great!” When I got off the phone I felt like I had already put myself in a great spot by clicking with her.

The day after our phone call, Mary called me at 10:30 in the morning and said she wanted to have a one on one interview with me at noon that same day. I agreed.

That day I joined a guided tour throughout my shop floor with our VPs and Regional Leaders so I was in a polo shirt, jeans and boots. I had no makeup on. I didn’t think that would matter since Mary already knew that I was still working at my current job.

I was wrong.

The minute she came downstairs to meet me in the lobby Mary scanned me with her eyes not once, but twice. I felt so uncomfortable and immediately started to explain myself hoping to see that nice lady that I had been talking to on the phone the day before, but I was out of luck.The “new Mary” was harsh and critical. She couldn’t get past my jeans, boots and polo shirt.

She would ask me something about my experience, I would start answering, and then she would interrupt me by saying “And didn’t you find a minute to change? We maintain an executive dress code here.”

She asked me, “Did you dress like that just because you want to?” and she said, “You know, I’m not judging or anything but I just can’t stop looking at your outfit.”

This went on and on for 30-40 minutes until I finally stood up and said, “It is a shame that as a recruiter you’re more intrigued by my outfit than by my background, experience and strengths. I think we both know that this isn’t going to work, so please, lead me back to the exit. I’m still on my lunch break and it’d be great if I could get something to eat.”

I know this wasn’t the greatest thing for me to do but I was so mad. Who does she think she is? Do you think she was right? Is this something that recruiters still consider?

Regards,

Annabel


Dear Annabel,

Of course we get upset when someone is disapproving of something we do, including the way we get dressed in the morning, but in this case the impolite recruiter’s feedback was a gift.There’s no reason for that recruiter to have been so judgmental of you, but let’s be glad she was! She had valuable input for you. When you interview for a job, you have to dress the part. You have to dress the way someone who wants the job would dress. It sounds like in your case that meant full business attire.

Even though the recruiter knew you are working at your current job, she would still have expected you to dress up for the interview. She was taken by surprise by your casual attire and did a bad job of hiding her displeasure. That’s okay because you got the benefit of her harsh reaction.

Now you know. When you have an interview for a job that requires business attire and you aren’t wearing business attire to work that day, you have to bring an extra outfit to change into.

Alternately, you could tell the interviewer in advance that you aren’t dressed in business attire today and let them decide whether or not to reschedule the interview. If the recruiter had known you were going to be wearing a polo shirt and jeans she wouldn’t have freaked out the way she did.

If you had told her, “I’m happy to come and meet you at noon, but I’ve been on a plant tour and I’m wearing jeans and a polo shirt today,” she might have rescheduled.

Mary messed up and so did you.

It was a mistake to assume that Mary the recruiter would make the logical leap from “This candidate Annabel is still working at her current job,” to “I should expect Mary to be wearing a polo shirt and jeans when she arrives for her interview.”

How you dress for an interview is part of your overall presentation. It matters. Don’t be angry with Mary, the abrupt recruiter. She helped you out. Now you know how to prepare for your next interview. If it’s too much trouble to change in the ladies room for a lunchtime interview, you can reschedule the interview for another day.

Of course your experience and ideas are important and/but your judgment is important, too, and dressing down for the interview can signal poor judgment to many recruiters and hiring managers, not just Mary.

That’s okay! We always want to make mistakes in low-stakes situations like this one. You are talented and will get many more opportunities to move up and out of your current job.

If you expect to have more interviews at lunchtime, bring an extra outfit to change into when you have to dash to a lunch hour interview. That way you won’t raise suspicions at work but you’ll be ready for any last-minute interview opportunities that arise.

Don’t waste a drop of your precious mojo being angry with Mary. She will turn out to be one of the good guys in your story, because she taught you a lesson it might have been hard to learn otherwise!

All the best,

Liz

Via Fast Company : Welcome To The Wrinkle- And Sweat-Proof Workwear Of The Future

A few years ago, it seemed far-fetched to walk into work in a blazer made of the same material as your yoga pants. Here’s what women of the future will wear to work.

Katie Warner Johnson spent her college internship in a blur of boring and unflattering black blazers, pantsuits, and shift dresses.

It was 2006, and working as an analyst on Wall Street, she felt she needed to prove herself in a male-dominated industry, where her colleagues were often men who were much older than her. Dressing professionally and blending into the landscape of the trading floor was one way to do that. But while the garments allowed her to look the part, they weren’t particularly well designed: They wrinkled easily, were covered in sweat stains after long, hot days on the trading floor, and were not designed to flatter the female body.

A few years later, she decided to use those experiences as an opportunity to create a startup that reimagined the way women dress. In 2011, she launched an online store called Carbon38 that curated clothing with technical properties–say, moisture-wicking or temperature-regulating features–once only found in activewear. “I saw Carbon38 as a platform that went way beyond what you wear for your hour at the gym,” Johnson says. “These are clothes designed to take you through your entire day seamlessly and comfortably. We believe this is where the fashion industry is going.”

In 2015, Johnson set her sights on reinventing workwear, hoping to permanently kill off the outfit that she once was forced to wear to work everyday. Since only a smattering of brands at the time were making professional clothes using high-performance fabrics, she decided to design and manufacture her own. These ideas came to life in a collection that including a pencil dress and a blazer that looked trading floor appropriate, but were made from neoprene–a material used in scuba diver’s wetsuits.

“I wanted to create something that my peers at Goldman and Morgan Stanley could wear to work every day,” Johnson recalls. “We created the styles that already existed in our professional lexicon, just remade with performance fabrics and seaming that made them breathable, better-fitting, and more flattering. We did a quick run, expecting it to be a loss leader, but they turned out to be best sellers.”

WORKWEAR OF THE FUTURE

Since the successful launch of these pieces, Johnson has created a steady stream of technical clothes for women. In the most recent collection, which she calls Femme Moderne, there are cigarette pants, culottes, and wide leg pants. There are tunic tops that look like they are made of silk and Steve Job-esque mock neck tops. There are dresses with asymmetrical hems that are perfectly on-trend.

But while each of these pieces have the silhouettes of traditional workwear, they are made from material with four-way stretch, and have anti-microbial, moisture-wicking properties. This means they never need to be ironed, can be worn many times before needing to be washed, and dry quickly. If you’re feeding your toddler breakfast before work and she gets peanut butter on your outfit, it will wipe right off without leaving a stain. If it rains on your commute to the office, you don’t need to worry about ruining your outfit.

Just three years ago, it seemed far-fetched to go to a formal workplace in a blazer made from the same material as your yoga pants. But today, a range of startups–many founded by women who previously worked in finance, law, or consulting–are trying to invent the women’s work wardrobe of the future. The clothes they’re designing are sleek and polished, drawing inspiration from the pantsuits and shift dresses of the past, but are full of high-tech tweaks that make them more practical, comfortable, and versatile.

Meg He and Nina Faulhaber, former Goldman Sachs bankers who launched clothing brand ADAY, designed leggings that can take you from a marathon to a meeting with the prime minister of the U.K.–something one customer actually did. Former lawyer Prabha Rathinasabapathy, the founder of London-based System of Motion, created cotton button-downs that wick moisture and resist odor so you don’t give away that you are sweating bullets during your VC pitch. Johnson has invented an entire line of travel outfits called the Passport Collection that is specifically designed to enable you to step off a red-eye and go directly to your first breakfast meeting without a wardrobe change.

TODAY’S PROFESSIONAL WOMAN

When these founders think about who they are designing for, someone like Reeya Shah, 25, comes to mind. Shah is a senior consultant with Strategy&, a division of Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC). She spends four days a week on the road visiting clients. In her industry, there is still a dress code. She’s expected to be one degree more formal than her client. “I’m often sitting across a conference table from a man twice my age,” Shah explains. “Clothing is definitely meant to be a marker of competence. ”

For years, Shah would spend hours a month taking her suits, dresses, and silk tops to the dry cleaners. Then, when she arrived in her hotel room in her client’s city on Sunday night, she would steam or iron the clothes that got wrinkled in her bag. It occurred to her that this was an experience only female consultants had: her male colleagues traveled with one suit and packed a couple of folded wrinkle-free shirts, all designed to be low-maintenance.

When Shah discovered the new workwear brands on the market, she was an early adopter. Her new work uniform consists of a pair of ADAY slacks that don’t require any ironing, and a matching shell that feels like silk but doesn’t wrinkle. (She says that she owns four pairs of the pants in different colors.) “For me, it comes down to the fact that these clothes are extremely comfortable, but still make me look–and feel–appropriate,” she says. “Not having to worry about wrinkles just frees up mind space to think about more important things.”

For Johnson, this is the entire point of what she does. She believes that women have far too much to worry about in everyday life to bother with distractions in clothes, like sweat stains and ironing. From the start, she’s been observing the evolving needs and behaviors of what she describes as the “modern American woman.”

In her mind, this is someone who is working hard to overcome the gender inequities of the workplace. “For all the progress women have made in the workplace, we are still facing headwinds,” Johnson says. “We have to work to succeed as leaders in the workforce, we have to raise the next generation, that’s a lot of pressure on us. Women have risen to the occasion, and our wardrobes have yet to.”

THE DRESS CODE IS DYING OFF

But while the founders of Carbon38, ADAY, and System of Motion are interested in modernizing the foundational garments of women’s professional wardrobe, they also believe that women are looking to change expectations about what is acceptable to wear to work. Shah, for instance, believes it is a little paternalistic of workplaces to enforce dress codes. “I really believe that companies should believe we are all adults, and allow us to decide what is appropriate to wear to work,” she says.

Shah was encouraged by PWC’s decision to launch a new dress policy in May 2016 called “Dress For Your Day.” The idea was that employees were no longer forced to wear a suit every day, but could adapt their outfit to the norms of their client’s office culture. But the new rules came with many caveats, including “miniskirts and thin-strapped dresses are considered inappropriate” and “clothes shouldn’t be frayed or have holes . . . even if they are stylish holes.”

Shah believes that even industries with rigid dress codes, like law and consulting, are being forced to change because the clients they service are increasingly in technology or creative sectors, where nobody really cares what people wear to work. These industries are pushing all workplaces to casualize.

CHOOSING WHAT TO WEAR IS A SIGN OF POWER

These days, the founders of these brands are great examples about what women who control their own career wear every day. Rathinasabapathy is always in one of her crisp poplin shirts, whether she is biking to her offices in London or at a conference. When I speak to Faulhauber, she is wearing one of her brand’s leggings with a wool sweater. For these women, having the freedom to wear what they want means being able to have an active lifestyle, and go in and out of physical activity without having to swap outfits. This means wearing sports leggings directly from yoga into a breakfast meeting or comfortably walking across town without worrying that your clothes will not be up to task. “In some ways, having absolute choice over what you wear is a form of power,” Faulhaber says.

When I chatted with Johnson, she was about to speak at a conference. She was wearing a pair of her brand’s culottes with a T-shirt, and stack heels, with a leather jacket on top. “I feel very professional,” she says. “I’m wearing a T-shirt that is moisture-wicking that is good because I worked out this morning and I am still sweating. In the past, I would have been sweating through lunch, then have gross white stains all over my linen dress.”

Johnson does not impose a dress code at the Carbon38 offices, and employees sometimes come in wearing sports bras with no shirt, as if they had walked right out of a gym. “As employers, I believe we should really think about our employees at a human level in terms of what they wear,” she says. “I think you should wear what makes you feel the most like you.”

But unfortunately not all workplaces are this progressive. Rathinasabapathy isn’t sure that all employers will be open to their staff expressing themselves through clothing. Her perspective has been shaped by the fact that she spent many years as a lawyer, a field where employers are still wedded to formal workwear.”The dress code isn’t dead yet–and who knows if it will ever die off completely,” she says. “But the good news is that we now have the technology to make clothes feel comfortable, even though they look starched and formal on the outside. My goal is for women to feel comfortable no matter what they are wearing, because when you are comfortable, you are just better at your job.”

Via Joy Online : Fashion Friday: The Millennial dress code

What did you wear to work today? It’s probably more casual than your parents’ work wear and worlds different from your grandparents’ office attire.

Disappearing are the days of mandatory pantyhose and skirts, suits and ties. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, 83 percent of organizations offer some type of casual dress—40 percent of which allow employees to dress down every day. Even the oldest names in the business, known for sharp suits and ties, are loosening the reins on dress code.

Tech companies also play a hand in this movement. With employees spending long hours sitting behind computers, comfort is key, and stockings and ties aren’t synonymous with comfort. Since technology is embedded within most industries today, other fields have been following suit

Does success have a dress code? Furthermore, if one wants to be successful nowadays, does that mean you have to look successful by the standards of previous generations? Millennials are redefining what it looks like to be successful, so it may be time for the business-minded people in the industry to follow and lead.With millennials forming a majority in the workforce, this change is inevitable.

A rigid dress code could be seriously demotivating for the millennial population walking right out of universities, as many companies now leverage this as an employee engagement practice.

“Informal dress code basically lets the younger generation feel that they can be at ease, can speak their mind and engage with their seniors, without holding back,” says Vishal Shah, VP-leadership & people’s sciences, Wipro, India. “Gen X is learning from their children and I guess, they are giving way to reason beyond the seasons,” says, SV Nathan, senior director and chief talent officer, Deloitte India.

Besides, the MNCs have played an important role in redefining the work culture. Such reformations have already been experimented upon by other countries.

Opposing the change

There has been rigidity in allowing employees to dress casually to work and there have been valid reasons for the same. One of them was the need to differentiate between work and home. Now with the boundaries blurring between the two, the emphasis is on what works best for employees.

The root also lies in the belief that formal dressing equals ‘professionalism’.

“We were always taught that a good dress sense makes a good impression on others. Over time, this is reinforced and becomes part of a belief, and that belief in action is culture,” opines Nathan.

“With the establishment of local offices of global companies, increased talent mobility and global HR centres of excellence, these practices have now gained ground,” opines Suri.

According to Georgia Beasley, multiple companies in the industry and the feedback varied based on geography, market size, format, and obviously, the company. One industry colleague said they just implemented a casual dress code because it allows for employees to be more comfortable in how they work, which leads to a more positive work environment and culture.

We are currently in an employee-driven market and our industry must be competitive for talent, especially Millennial talent. We’re constantly striving to attract, cultivate, and develop the right talent on our team. Whether it’s more money, working remotely, or even additional vacation time, we typically do whatever it takes once we find the right person for an available position. Of course, everyone wants more money, but the Millennials want perks that enhance workplace culture, such as a more casual dress code. This may be a new tiebreaker for some businesses to use as a benefit.

Companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook, make it clear that one’s business attire does not equate to being an executive or having a certain level of professionalism. If anything, we are now seeing more frequently that it can be off-putting when “the suits” show up to a business and the owner is dressed casually. Companies are now saying what matters most is being professional, not looking professional.

Other industries encourage the team to use their judgment because they are their own business. Good sellers are chameleons and capable of adapting to their environment. There can be a hybrid dress code, one for internal and one for external responsibilities. The dress code could even reflect the seller’s list and actually lead to more business. Tattoos and jeans might be fine for a seller who focuses on clubs and more creative-driven agencies. In fact, this could lead to MORE dollars spent because the clients feel comfortable and trust is built.

Keep in mind, Millennials inherently understand what “too casual” means, so if you’ve made the decision to implement a more casual dress code for all the aforementioned reasons, it’s important that there still be specific guidelines.

You might enlist several talented Millennials to assist in laying out these guidelines. Make sure to be more specific about what is unacceptable versus what is acceptable. There are always individuals who push the envelope, but creating some clear guidelines will also be helpful for those workers who just don’t know, regardless of generation. It’s important for companies to make sure that everyone in the organization knows what the actual policy is up front and set a benchmark. It’s up to the employers to educate their employees as to what their interpretation is of the dress code; so while it may exist as a section in their handbook, it’s especially important to share this during the new hire/HR introductory meetings.

Some industries can be casual but that doesn’t mean sloppy. We can be flexible but not overly flexible. A looser, yet professional dress code internally could, in fact, improve morale. A casual dress code did nothing to negatively impact Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and many others. Millennials gravitate to these types of companies because they allow for authenticity. A less restrictive dress code gives the ability to show personality, which will translate to more confidence in the role of the company. Furthermore, if one encouraged to be authentic selves, trust and loyalty tend to also exist.

People in different industries are getting the draft of the winds of change. It will take time for some of them to make any drastic change. However, one size doesn’t fit all.

Dress code and many other decisions related to office ergonomics emanate from organisational culture. One of the primary determinants of culture is the industry and nature of work. A formal and an informal dress or a uniform has had to do with the appropriateness of work and identity. One had to wear dungarees or uniforms in manufacturing units for good reasons. Similarly, in the service industry, the formal dress code was to do with a certain identity and ease of recognition.

When it comes to industries, such as media & communication or roles that are not customer or client facing, the culture is more informal, apt to their work style and best suited to their environment. Such an approach may not be relevant at all for the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) as well as the consulting and manufacturing sectors.

“A well-dressed salesman is needed for meeting a doctor in the pharma industry. That is not likely to change so soon, perhaps. Similarly, bankers will see a slower change,” concurs Nathan.

On the other hand, some companies from the IT industry have embraced a more casual work style owing to creative work demands, brainstorming-based environment and a comparatively younger workforce. “Uniformity of practice helps if this heightens the work ethos. If it hinders, we may have to change the practice. Conformity also lends an identity. The IBM Blue was famous a year ago. Even that has changed,” Nathan adds.

The alternative

While being at extremes may be detrimental, there are certain benefits of some formal practices. For instance, a crisp dress style can be used for impression management — many studies show the link between stiff presentation and perception of intelligence. Similarly, while reporting structures need to be formal enough to avoid violating personal space, they cannot be severely inflexible so as to stifle innovation.

Psychologists are also of the view that an extremely informal dress style can cause employees to feel less productive and focused. This is because the type of clothing can dictate the personality and frame of mind. Depending on whether one is in ‘typical work attire’ or ‘relaxed weekend outfits’, the brain gets instructed to behave in ways consistent with what the clothes symbolize.

Having said that, one thing is for sure, there is a change coming along.

Even in the executive meeting rooms, it is okay not to wear a tie. A jacket replaces the suit in many meetings. Addressing people by their first names is a matter of culture. And as the younger generation takes over as leaders, we will see more change.

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