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    Business Attire in the Workplace

    Hi all!

    First time commenting or posting in here. Wanted to ask a question that I have been pondering off and on for the last couple of months...

    I work in an office environment in the DC Metro area and am unofficially required to wear a shirt and tie or a suit to work daily.

    But with the Pandemic, as with the Shutdown, the dress code has been relaxed a bit.

    Do you think that the dress code in the Corporate environment will change back to suits and ties when the Pandemic finally is over, or will the Corporate world see the introduction of more of a California business/business casual style (sportcoat over a polo or t shirt with jeans and sneakers) become more pervasive?

    Personally, I could see a suit minus a tie, or full on California/Silicon Valley business become the norm for daily Corporate attire.

    #2
    Originally posted by PlatoonDaddy View Post
    Hi all!

    First time commenting or posting in here. Wanted to ask a question that I have been pondering off and on for the last couple of months...

    I work in an office environment in the DC Metro area and am unofficially required to wear a shirt and tie or a suit to work daily.

    But with the Pandemic, as with the Shutdown, the dress code has been relaxed a bit.

    Do you think that the dress code in the Corporate environment will change back to suits and ties when the Pandemic finally is over, or will the Corporate world see the introduction of more of a California business/business casual style (sportcoat over a polo or t shirt with jeans and sneakers) become more pervasive?

    Personally, I could see a suit minus a tie, or full on California/Silicon Valley business become the norm for daily Corporate attire.
    I've worked (and lived) in the DC Metro area my entire life and find at least with the federal government interaction it ranges from suit and tie to thank god you at least found pants to wear. It seemed to always relax a little during the summer due to the humidity unless a big briefing or something.

    Our dress code has relaxed big time. I used to wear a tie (most of the time suit) everyday and it's been t-shirt and shorts/jeans while remote since March. I actually had an interview during COVID and it was the first time I put on a collared shirt.

    But to your larger question, I do think it will start back in relaxed on most industries. I think the traditional ones (lawyers, lobbyist, etc.) will jump right back into suits but I think the rest will start or keep a mostly relaxed attire. I know with my new job I am not anticipating wearing ties as I start my orientation (virtual) but I will at least wear collared shirts and keep a jack on the chair as I learn my new environment. I am looking into other nicer sweaters, etc. that I can wear on Zoom calls as we enter fall.

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      #3
      Hi PlatoonDaddy! I work in a govt building in Northern Virginia. From what I've seen, the govies and traditional govt contractor types still dress pretty conservative. Tech companies, especially those with HQ in California, are more laid back. Maybe with Amazon coming to town, that will accelerate the trend towards casual dress. I tell you what, though, when I look around, I tend to see older guys looking less put together and generally more slobby than younger guys. I see a lot of young men in suits and looking quite dapper.

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        #4
        I work for the federal government in DC and always wear a shirt with a collar, generally with chinos/dress pants and a sport coat or with a suit. Ties have mostly disappeared at my office though I wear them fairly regularly. They're the first thing I jettison though - it goes tie, then sport coat. I never ditch the suit jacket if I'm wearing an actual suit but will ditch the sport coat and go just shirt (or shirt and sweater) with chinos or wool dress pants. I have been basically dressing casually while working from home. I think when everything is over the federal government will go back to how it was. That means the political appointees and upper level career management will most likely be wearing suits. Those of us non-management worker drones will wear suits if we have a meeting with those folks, otherwise it'll range from a suit on down to a OCBD with chinos, which is about the most casual you can go in my office except for casual Fridays, when jeans are OK. I don't think you'll see a t shirt and jeans become OK under any circs. I really don't have much insight into how formal private sector business attire still is and whether that's going more casual and might stay that way.
        “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain

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          #5
          Dress trends also tend to move with the economy, that is high demand for staff leads to looser grooming standards. The old observation that skirt hems and the stock market rise and fall together is accurate, though with the amount of quantitative easing governments have done over the last decade the stock markets aren't as tied to median incomes as they used to be.

          If unemployment is high, people switch to more formal dress to improve their chances of being hired, and business do so to encourage an appearance of stability and reliability in uncertain times (also why industries requiring high levels of trust are typically the most formal).

          There's a lot of people going to be applying for jobs, at least whenever the US collectively decides to do what's necessary to get the pandemic down to levels manageable in a developed democracy

          Indeed, that switch back to formal dress could have even more meaning now, if it's a way for a business to proclaim they've put the pandemic behind them.

          That said, the decades-old trend to greater informality isn't going to go away. Whether it's notably interrupted or accelerated by remote work will depend on how quickly the economy recovers, and if remote work sticks around in a meaningful way.

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            #6
            Originally posted by Galcobar View Post
            Dress trends also tend to move with the economy, that is high demand for staff leads to looser grooming standards. The old observation that skirt hems and the stock market rise and fall together is accurate, though with the amount of quantitative easing governments have done over the last decade the stock markets aren't as tied to median incomes as they used to be.

            If unemployment is high, people switch to more formal dress to improve their chances of being hired, and business do so to encourage an appearance of stability and reliability in uncertain times (also why industries requiring high levels of trust are typically the most formal).
            Good observation, I think.

            WHY ARE THE GUYS IN SUITS HERE? HAS SOMETHING GONE WRONG?

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              #7
              I didn't realize there was so many Dappered devotees in the DMV. We should throw a DC Dappered Happy Hour. We'll put it on Joe's tab.

              Comment


                #8
                I've been thinking about this a lot lately as well, glad I'm not the only one! I currently live in the St. Louis area, but have also lived in Chicago and Houston. I work in forensic accounting...a pretty conservative group when it comes to attire. But even before COVID we were gradually moving to a more business casual, leaning casual environment. Unless you were meeting with a client, you could probably get away with chinos and a polo. Wearing a suit and tie was becoming a relative rarity. Relegated primarily to court or depo days. Even for meetings at attorney's offices a tie would usually be overkill.

                Since COVID, our accounting firm has moved to a mostly remote "come in if you need to/want to" type environment. And the dress code has REALLY gone casual. If you go in to the office now, it won't be unusual to see people in t-shirts (not me). And to be honest, I'm not sure that it will ever go back completely to the way it was. Remote work just works well for many of our service based industries, and I think our partners have been drooling over the potential cost savings on reducing office footprint.

                I really think COVID has accelerated a more permanent move to remote optional work. And I think with that, more casual dress in the office. Obviously this forum is full of people who enjoy dressing well, so I'm definitely curious what the opinion of the group is. I am personally rooting for a blowback against the trend if and when COVID is resolved and people move back to the office. Otherwise, I could probably go ahead and sell some suits!

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by CK83 View Post
                  I've been thinking about this a lot lately as well, glad I'm not the only one! I currently live in the St. Louis area, but have also lived in Chicago and Houston. I work in forensic accounting...a pretty conservative group when it comes to attire. But even before COVID we were gradually moving to a more business casual, leaning casual environment. Unless you were meeting with a client, you could probably get away with chinos and a polo. Wearing a suit and tie was becoming a relative rarity. Relegated primarily to court or depo days. Even for meetings at attorney's offices a tie would usually be overkill.

                  Since COVID, our accounting firm has moved to a mostly remote "come in if you need to/want to" type environment. And the dress code has REALLY gone casual. If you go in to the office now, it won't be unusual to see people in t-shirts (not me). And to be honest, I'm not sure that it will ever go back completely to the way it was. Remote work just works well for many of our service based industries, and I think our partners have been drooling over the potential cost savings on reducing office footprint.

                  I really think COVID has accelerated a more permanent move to remote optional work. And I think with that, more casual dress in the office. Obviously this forum is full of people who enjoy dressing well, so I'm definitely curious what the opinion of the group is. I am personally rooting for a blowback against the trend if and when COVID is resolved and people move back to the office. Otherwise, I could probably go ahead and sell some suits!
                  I think that whether casual sticks will depend on what clients expect, and also the extent to which companies embrace remote work. Anyone working remotely is most likely going to be dressed more casually. The Federal Government has allowed employees to telework 1-2 days a week for years now. I don't think the policy had any effect on dress while in the office but I definitely dressed casual on telework days. Teleworking didn't have any effect on how I dressed while in the office in the before times, though my Agency slowly got slightly more casual over time. My guess is if/when we go back it will be a return to pre-pandemic in terms of dress code when we're actually in the office. As noted above, it might also depend on economic conditions. If there's a ton of pent up demand it's possible the economy could come roaring back fairly quickly. If not, because people are flat broke because we didn't give them enough assistance to weather the pandemic economic storm, the rebound could be slow. In that case impressing the boss (or at least keeping the boss happy) will matter for a lot of people because if unemployment is high you don't want to risk losing your job. I could see that causing people to go more formal, but it will depend on the attitude of the folks in the corner offices. Some of them have embraced casual dress to the extent that they they think the worker bee in a suit is putting on airs.
                  “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain

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