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Dress Code or Stress Code? Over a quarter of workers don’t know what to wear

As if worrying about our job performance and career growth weren’t enough, a recent survey has found that 29% of us struggle to find clothes that are suitable to wear to work.

According to Banana Moon, 53% of employers have waved goodbye to formal workwear in favour of more relaxed office fashion. In a survey of over 2,000 workers, they found that while many have welcomed the trend, the freedom it provides has presented a stressful burden for others.

It’s the infamous paradox of choice; confused by too many options, 39% of us would rather have a compulsory uniform than face the stress of deciding what to wear. Hardly surprising considering that over a third of workers have felt judged on their clothing choices, and over 20% have been told off for wearing certain items.

Of course, the acceptance of items like skinny jeans, band tees, shorts and vests varies between industries and companies, and there’s a large element of common sense when it comes to choosing what fits. But the choice isn’t always just centred on the appropriateness of work clothes.

Earlier this month the BBC published an article entitled ‘Do the colours you wear at work matter?’ The article featured Pennsylvania bank boss John Spier’s experience of hiring a corporate stylist.

While you may be forgiven for rolling your eyes when it states that blue is ‘the colour of trust and being a peacemaker’, the article makes some valid points - namely that the colour you wear impacts your mood and that your workwear is a reflection of your personal brand.

While it might seem to be a frivolous and isolated concern, your choice of what to wear to work can have a direct impact on your job performance and career growth. Although a third of the Banana Moon survey respondents said casual clothing wouldn’t affect their productivity levels, it makes sense; if you feel confident in what you’re wearing and convey an image that’s in line with your company’s values, you’ll be more likely to perform better and win new clients.

When it comes to analysis paralysis over work clothes, it’s not practical for everyone to employ a corporate stylist - but clarity on the rules can certainly help. If your workplace dress-code is a bit vague, ask your employer for guidance. It’s in their interest; after all, if employees are indecisive over what to wear or feel self-conscious, it’ll have an adverse effect on their productivity and job satisfaction.

In our view, the best workwear choices are those that allow you to work comfortably whilst conveying a professional image – ultimately, your image is a reflection of your company’s. If in doubt, it’s always better to opt for too formal than too informal, but don’t over analyse it. So long as you’re not one of the 3% of men who said pyjamas were acceptable work attire, you won’t go far wrong!

And if you’re still stuck on what to wear, The Balance provides some work dress image galleries for inspiration.

Like deciding what to wear shouldn’t be something to stress over, neither should looking for a new job. If you would like some advice from our stylish Recruitment Consultants then give us a call on 01865 335 600.

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