Getting dressed for the office can have an obscene effect on our stress levels. And a recent study by office suppliers Viking, the majority of us go through this struggle daily. We care about the way we look as it affects our levels of self-confidence, perceived level of capability and of course the perception of others. The large cause of this is of course our perception of the situation. Dress codes are usually in place but vague terms such as business casual, formal, smart-casual do not make it any easier, unless obviously stipulated. Plus everyday is different, often we have established a rotation of clothing appropriate for the office but when our schedules throw in a conference with board members, a social drink with clients and/or at a brainstorming session with your colleagues where your bosses want your creativity juices to flow, the frenzy ignites.
The advantages of this study is it does enlighten, at least you’re not going through the struggle alone. Here are some things to take not of:
- The study found a clear link between dress code and confidence; 70% of people wearing business formal clothing felt confident at work, with this number steadily decreasing the more casual the dress code. Only 45% of those allowed to dress casually feel confident when working.
- 1 in 10 workers are unhappy with their workplace attire, and over half feel pressured to buying new clothing to avoid being judged by peers
- Women are more likely to care and worry about how they look at work than men, and are less likely to feel confident in their clothing
- Smart casual is the most common dress code, reflecting a growing trend away from the classic suit and tie
- The biggest concern for those with a smart casual dress code is being perceived as too casual by their employer, suggesting it is hard for workers to balance formality with comfort
Perhaps the key aspect here is that organisations, especially in the creative industries, are moving away from a formal dress code and it’s been found that when our individuality shines, so does our productivity and creativity. Arguably, it is our own perceptions on the effect that dressing has on our careers and within the workplace, we easily quash this by talking directly to our managers and discussing any concerns we have.
Gemma Terrar, HR representative at Viking weighs in:
“Employees should never feel pressured to alter their appearance, but that starts with workplace dress codes being both clear and inclusive. Smart, clean clothing that won’t cause offense to fellow colleagues or customers is easy to achieve and, as we’ve seen with our own, flexible dress code, it affords employees a lot of choice – making it easy to dress comfortably on any budget. Through this, we’ve found that our employees generally don’t feel pressured or worried about their workplace attire.”
If you’d be interested in finding our more, you can find the complete article through the Viking blog.