We’re living through the perfect storm of difficult circumstances right now – straight out of a global pandemic and right into the hurricane of another financial crisis. As a result, the office commute is becoming a thing of the past for many of the modern day workforce.
As a result of this hybridization of the workforce, formal office dress codes could well be finished. Clothing sales actually plummeted by 25% in 2020, which indicates the largest annual drop since records began. It’s little surprise given that so many of us were working in our pyjamas during the pandemic.
Many of us seem to have made a gradual return to the office, but the hybrid model still reigns supreme. In 2022, the proportion of workers who are hybrid working rose from 13% to 24% between February and May alone. Those working exclusively from home, however, dropped from 22% to 14% over that same period.
Dressing up or dressing down?
There are benefits to working from home, such as gaining time in schedules from not having to focus on appearance. Nowadays, the pandemic has led to a relaxing of dress codes, with many now inclined to dress down – jeans and a polo shirt are now pretty much acceptable.
Even at the G7 summit in June, it marked the first time in 40 years that the G7 portrait was taken without ties. So it’s clear that the tide is very much turning with regard to the boundaries between smart, smart-casual, and even casual.
A lot of dress codes ultimately depend on the nature of upper management, although many have embraced the need to work in comfort rather than style. That said, there will still be occasions for which dressing up should be encouraged. Comfort and style can also work in tandem. By no means is this the death of the suit and tie, merely a hybridisation of workwear that matches our newfound hybrid working model.
Comfort and convenience
For many bosses, this aspect of workwear is the key to ensuring productivity. After all, a more relaxed environment is more conducive to feeling positive about one’s work. Professionals have started to realise that what people wear has no considerable bearing on their performance. When thinking about this point, it seems somewhat ludicrous that we had once thought a smarter dress code would somehow lead to greater productivity.
That said, looking smart in comfort is still very much a possibility, with all kinds of variations in shirts for men these days allowing for breathability, style, convenience and comfort. Nowadays, we are also blessed with variety to meet our respective climates. Lighter fabrics offer the perfect in smart or smart-casual attire during the scorching summer months, where more substantial fabrics allow for warmth in the long, cold winter months.
The pandemic was tough on the vast majority of us, though it has ushered in a new era for modern workwear. In our new hybrid model, we no longer have to be rigid office drones. We can bring personality to the office, which is undoubtedly something worth celebrating.