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Do you feel under pressure to dress a certain way at work?

With many businesses adopting a more casual dress code, employees may, intentionally or not, find themselves criticising another colleague’s attire. Women are hit hardest by this, and they’re feeling under pressure to spend more and keep up appearances at work.

The study, carried out by office stationary suppliers, Viking,  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.


Some of the key findings from the survey were: 

  • One in ten 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


 The results also highlight how much employees spend on their work wear to keep up appearances,  with a fifth of workers spending at least £600 a year to keep their 9 – 5 wardrobe topped up.


22% of office workers spend more than £50 a month on clothing just for work, a survey can reveal. This equates to £600 each year, or £27,000 over the course of a career*, which is above the average annual wage of a worker in the UK (£26,500).


The study, reveals the pressures that office workers across the UK feel when it comes to the clothing they wear for work, resulting with one in ten workers being unhappy with their workplace attire.


Overall, 52% of workers said they had felt pressured into buying new clothing to ‘keep up appearances’ around the office. When asked why, the majority felt their fellow colleagues would judge them for not revamping their wardrobe.


42% feared that female colleagues would judge them, closely followed by 41% fearing the same thing from male counterparts. Another revelation was that those with a more formal dress code felt that women had it easier when it came to dressing in the workplace, whereas smart-casual, casual and uniformed workplaces thought men were less likely to be judged.


This suggests that women may be more conscious of their day to day clothing, whereas men feel greater pressure to smarten up in formal meetings, presentation and other situations.


Gemma Terrar, European HR business partner at Viking, said “As a HR professional, I’ve seen it become more and more common to have a casual dress code – possibly due to the influence of millennials in our workplace.


“As a result, wearing a shirt and tie is not only becoming a thing of the past, but our restrictions for what counts as ‘business formal’ have relaxed. Now, it isn’t uncommon to find a business meeting without a suit jacket in sight.”


What’s the dress code in your office ?


Do you feel under pressure to dress a certain way?




Full results from the survey can be found here.



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