Why casual office wear is causing stress

New research shows that employees are increasingly unsure what is acceptable to wear to work as office dress codes become more relaxed.

A poll of over 2,000 UK workers conducted by Banana Moon reveals that there has been a significant shift towards more casual work dress codes in many sectors, with 53% of those polled saying they no longer have to wear formal clothes in their workplace.

However, more relaxed dress codes are bringing greater stress, with 29% of workers polled saying they struggle to find suitable clothing and a third of respondents reporting that they feel judged on what they wear to work.

The findings show that many UK workers are also confused about the meaning of "casual" or "smart-casual" work wear. The results show that 24% of men and 21% of women say they have been reprimanded for wearing inappropriate outfits.

The survey finds that for 20% of respondents, skinny jeans are seen as suitable work wear; however, ripped jeans are only accepted in 7% of UK workplaces.

There are also marked differences between sectors - band t-shirts, for instance, are popular in the marketing, PR and creative industries but they are shunned in sectors such as HR and recruitment. Women in recruitment and HR favour smart dresses, and men in this sector are more likely to wear suits.

The UK's most casually-dressed workers are in Leeds, with 65% no longer needing a uniform for work. However, 72% of Leeds offices still have guidelines on dress that employees are expected to follow.

Stylist Lisa Talbot said: "People tell me they don't know what to wear to work anymore; and yet there is so much emphasis on what you wear and the impression you make … First impressions count. It's not just whether you are formal enough; it's about showing you care."

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