The office attire, colloquially referred to as being “suited and booted”, has been the default and often mandatory office uniform from as far back as the 19th Century. It gained a new life in the 1980’s with the concept of power dressing as a means of projecting authority and power but today, according to a survey by Travelodge, only 1 in 10 workers wear a suit to work.
This dramatic shift has less to do with fashion changes, rather a reflection on the changing attitudes to organisational structure and colleagues in the work environment.
Historically, you could often ascertain someone’s seniority by the clothes they wore, and this was often encouraged to distinguish management from employees. But this visual reinforcement of the hierarchical structure and decision making is outdated in the New World of Work.
Hierarchical structures functioned well in a world where change happened slowly, and decisions filtered down from the top. But today, change is happening fast, not just in terms of business models, but also in terms of technology and markets. Old hierarchical structures struggle to identify and adapt fast enough to remain relevant and competitive.
The trend is for Managers and CEO’s to be more embedded and collaborative with their teams to enable them to identify and guide the company through rapid changes.
Breaking down corporate barriers also means leaving behind the paraphernalia that divides and instead adopting behaviours and appearance that unites teams and helps foster open debate and discussion.
Unsurprisingly many CEO’s are ditching the suit and choosing Jeans and T-shirts to reflect a more open and approachable style. Breaking away from the office dress code makes a clear statement that the organisation embraces individual thought rather than uniform group-think.