A lot of people are no longer wearing suits to work. Companies are ditching the requirement of ties and blazers in order to give employees greater flexibility when it comes to their workwear.
Marks & Spencer, the biggest menswear retailer in the UK, said it was cutting back its formalwear ranges and would be devoting less space to suits because of a market-wide 7 per cent fall in suit sales. Ties are down by nearly 6 per cent in sales, while blazers and formal jackets have fallen by 10 per cent year on year, according to market analysts Kantar.
In a company-wide memo, Goldman Sachs announced a few months ago that they would be moving to a “firm wide flexible dress code” due to the “changing nature of workplaces generally in favour of a more casual environment”. This is the same company that was once known for its employees wearing Armani suits and Gucci loafers. Other financial firms have followed the informal dress codes of tech companies, letting employees wear whatever they want.
According to Vox, the suit was originally seen as “projecting elegance, authority, and mastery of a profession,” but now, “Even at prestigious jobs, the people who wear suits can raise suspicion.” The suit has lost its power. Even Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg wears a hoodie to work most days. When he appeared before the U.S. Congress in a suit, it didn’t evoke the power it once used to. Fashion and culture historian, Deirdre Clemente, said, “I would’ve had a lot more respect if he showed up in a hoodie: ‘This is who I am and what I do.’”
Getting rid of the suit can also be beneficial to women. Karen Pine, a fashion psychologist at Hertfordshire University in England, said in an interview, “In the past, women had to dress like men to reach senior positions in the workplace. Now they can dress as they like and assert their individuality through their work attire, without fear of bumping up against the glass ceiling.”
The younger generation wants to wear something more fashionable and trendy. While the suit isn’t out of style entirely, many people are tweaking it. Men are styling their blazers and trousers with rollnecks and trainers.
The traditional suit is losing popularity and our culture’s idea of appropriate workwear is changing, but that doesn’t mean suits are completely dead. A tailored suit still looks good at formal events and it beats wearing sweats to a job interview or a first date. That said, it looks like companies will continue the trend of enforcing less formal dress codes.