The Evolution of Office Dress Codes (Infographic)

As office dress codes have changed over the decades, Human Resource professionals have been given the responsibility to align dress code rules with social and political norms. Throughout the evolution of workplace dress codes, HR professionals have been able to identify a steady increase in workplace satisfaction and productivity due to more relaxed dress codes.

Evolution of Office Dress Codes

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Highlighting Business Attire through the Decades

1950s

Men:

Gray flannel suits with high-waisted paints, white button-down shirt, striped tie, cuff links and heavy oxford shoes(2)

Fedora hats were popular but were becoming less common than in previous decade

Women:

A Chanel signature – slim-fitting tweed suits of below the knee skirts and matching cropped jackets with gilt buttons and contrast outlines(3)

34% of women were in the workforce in the 1950s vs. 86% of men. Being a wife or mother was still the norm, but that was beginning to change(4)

1960s

Men:

Bright colors, eye-catching patterns and slim-fitting clothes paired with thin ties dominated menswear during this decade(5)

Women:

A-line shift dresses and simple blouses in a monochromatic-pastel color palette, pillbox hats and kitten-heeled pumps(6)

31-year-old Jaqueline Kennedy was the youngest first lady in recent history, and her elegant style was much emulated(7)

Strongly individualistic icons of popular culture like Twiggy, Cher, Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles made bright colors and nontraditional patterns and styles part of the mainstream(8)

1970s

Men:

Suits with wide lapels, kipper ties and bell-bottom trousers

Women:

During the 1970s, women were fighting for equality in the workplace, equal pay for equal work and the chance at leadership roles typically occupied by men.  The women’s liberation movement was in full force and in 1975, TIME Magazine even awarded its “Man of the Year” award to “American women.”(9)

The popularity of the women’s liberation movement is reflected in the newly popular pantsuit, frequently worn with tie-neck blouses and fitted blazers with wide lapels and feminine prints(10)

1980s

The age of the “power suit”

Men:

Striped suits with shoulder pads (yes, for men too!), double-breasted jackets and pleated pants worn with suspenders and contrast-collar shirts were popular in the office(11)

Women:

Suits with shoulder pads and silk bows tied at the neck

The masculine style of women’s clothes showed off their increasing presence in leadership roles(12)

The economic boom of the 1980s resulted in high wages for executives, and they showed off their wealth in many ways, including fashion

1990s

Men:

Casual Fridays were introduced in the 1950s but became increasingly offered as a company perk in the 1990s. Khakis and Levi’s Dockers became a popular option for men(13)

Suits were baggy and oversized(14)

Women:

Pantsuits remained popular but lost the shoulder pads, and jeans became more accepted in the office

Simple, minimalistic styles, neutral colors and miniskirt suits(15)

By the end of the 1990s, business casual was the norm in offices all over the U.S., which was strongly influenced by the dot-com culture(16)

2000s

Men:

Slim-fit tailored suits paired with solid colored shirts and occasionally sneakers

Women:

Separates replaced business suits. Casual blouses, short sleeve dresses, cardigans and open toed shoes(17)

Modern Day

On average, modern professionals spend 11 minutes a day choosing their clothes for work

Men spend longer getting ready, an average of 12 minutes

Women spend around 9 minutes

67% of employees have a separate wardrobe for the office(18)

Office dress codes

60% say their office dress code is business casual

23% casual

12% business formal

5% no official dress code(19)

HR Adapts Organizational Dress Code Policies to a Variety of Needs and Preferences of the Modern Day Employee

70% of professionals work out of the office regularly(20) , which has contributed to business wear becoming more casual for both men and women

Designer sneakers, upscale hoodies and athleisure wear dominate for both genders

Relaxed dress code policies can contribute to employee happiness and help attract new job candidates

86% of employees prefer casual dress codes

61% believe they would be more productive and happier with a more relaxed office dress codes(21)

Of the professionals looking for work in the next year, 61% said that the presence of a dress code would have a negative influence on their perception of a businesses(22)

Workplace Clothing Choices Can Even Impact an Employee’s Chances of Moving Up

80% of managers report that what employee’s wear in the office can impact their chances of a promotion

HR professionals are responsible for developing and enforcing dress code policies, which ensure an organization’s workforce presents a professional image to customers and clients. These policies can also motivate, reward and attract employees.(23)

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SOURCES

  1. stormlinegear.com
  2. fashionencyclopedia.com
  3. metmuseum.org
  4. bls.gov
  5. theidleman.com
  6. mashable.com
  7. harpersbazaar.com
  8. marieclaire.co.uk
  9. time.com
  10. instyle.com
  11. gq.com
  12. bustle.com
  13. marketplace.org
  14. forbes.com
  15. baltimoresun.com
  16. theatlantic.com
  17. visual-therapy.com
  18. rh-us.mediaroom.com
  19. plansponsor.com
  20. prnewswire.com
  21. rh-us.mediaroom.com
  22. stormlinegear.com
  23. blog.shrm.org/blog/