Office Doublespeak: What It Really Means

Apparently I’ve worked for companies that were ahead of their own time. I can’t recall the last time it was required to wear a suit to work every day.  When I worked for an athletic apparel company, it wasn’t strange to see people come into work in jeans, t-shirts or sneakers. During my time in a university setting, flip-flops were commonplace during weekly meetings. And now, working from home…who needs clothes?

Remember when Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, held his  live IPO meeting from his headquarters in a hoodie?  Well if you’re in the tech industry, dressing down is something that’s common place and clothing designers are planning to make a huge money off of high-priced casual clothing.

From fancy sweatpants for men to dress yoga pants for women, one company in particular has its hands on the dress down market. Betabrand is a godsend for those who rock casual clothing at work. But of course everything comes at a price. Try about $90 for a pair of sweats. For me, it wasn’t uncommon to find me at work in a pair of $6 Wal-Mart sweats. But $90? Nah.

According to professors at Harvard Business School, dressing casual and throwing away the suit and tie – is in fact the new power dressing.

From Metro UK:

The research, entitled The Red Sneakers Effect, says wearing more casual clothes to the office can enhance your standing among co-workers. The report’s author, Francesca Gino, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, carried out a number of experiments on ‘nonconforming’ behaviour.

In one of them, she found that executives were more likely to think she had a higher work status and charged higher fees when she gave a seminar wearing red sneakers with her suit than when she wore more formal footwear. The study also found that university students saw their professors as having a higher standing if they wore a T-shirt to work rather than a suit. It appears the professor’s refusal to conform to the norm gave them more kudos.

But what’s appropriate in one industry isn’t always appropriate in another.

“If you’re a high-flying trader in the City, track pants and flips-flops just aren’t going to cut it,” said Natalie Wall, online fashion editor at Cosmopolitan.

And it won’t cut it if you’re attorney either.  I remember one happy hour in particular when my attorney friend was questioned about her short dress and was asked if she actually wore it in court that morning. Although she said she did, she also pointed out that she pulled it up and cinched it with a belt for happy hour.

Clutchettes, do you work in a casual attire office environment? Or is it all business wear M-F?

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  • vintage3000

    I have worn a suit to work and people had jokes, asking me where was my interview, wishing me ‘good luck’, etc.

    But what about interview attire? I am accustomed to wearing the traditional navy or black tailored suit, with eff me pumps and understated jewelry for an interview. I work for a company where recent candidates showed up in business casual–a blouse tucked into ‘dress slacks’, a bright red sheath dress with a black blazer, open toe pumps, etc. and no one batted an eye (except me).

  • Me

    i’m glad this is the trend. too many people already judge you by what you buy instead of the good you can do. clothes just cover your body, they don’t do the work for you. but of course everything got a time and place just don’t always gotta be super strict about it.

  • k

    i have a friend who this has been the norm and she works in legal now and before that properties. she CONSISTENTLY always find jobs where its perfectly normal to show up sweats and sweatshirts, they have nap rooms, cater lunch every friday, breakfast on wednesdays etc. and this has been going on since at least 2006. at any rate if this is spreading across the fields i am ALL FOR IT

  • DeeFlowers

    I work at a job where business casual is required…a suit, not so much. I think that in any job situation, you need to be dressed accordingly. I take pride in my appearance and in my field, sweatpants and flip flops will not cut it. We are lucky to have jeans Friday, which is fine with me. Some people take casual too far. My boss often jokes about some people dressed ‘club casual’ instead of business casual.