The suit-and-tie is (nearly) dead! Long live the suit-and-tie!
Office Space news by BURO Club

Back to the list

News of the 31/03/2016

It may be fascinating to study the evolution of behaviours inside the business world. The one concerning the dress code of executives and businessmen over the past few years proves a true change is coming for most of us.

A few years ago, each executive member, each professional position, each job definition had its own dress code. The famous dark tuxedo - white shirt - black tie was almost a uniform for bankers, insurers and major groups salesmen. This outfit was followed by many accessories such as a company car, an assistant and a private and permanent office (even if the job was itinerant!).

Indeed, it was really easy to guess somebody’s function at a glance over his job routine! The now famous “Casual Friday”, a tradition imported by American people who lived in Hawaii and came back, modified a bit, in the beginning of the 70’s, the conventional dress code with a few fancy additions (actually very smooth) on… Fridays.

The true revolution is much more recent. Today, the rules have changed and the Steve Job’s dress code effect, that is to say wearing fashionable jeans and trendy sneakers, is in full swing! As a matter of fact, it is not possible anymore to recognize only by their clothes who is the head of a multinational group, a salaryman or an artist. During one’s professional life it is now common to meet people who don’t look much, but who actually occupy great positions. The same goes for the more standard commercial functions, for example, in which the tie seems to be living its last days.

We could end the topic there but three questions arise: Why this evolution? Is it definitive? What does this change cause in the business life?

About the why, there are probably several reasons. The first comes from the “Silicon Valley syndrome”, which means that the cooler and more casual you are upon your dress code, the more serene you are upon the way you manage your project and business itself. It stems partly from the “trendy Californian genius dress code” that spread bit by bit in Europe and everywhere over the past years.

The other reason is more profound, as it comes from a true need to be physically comfortable when we work. Indeed, who never had to deal with overtight ties or compressed tuxedos, particularly during a business trip or meal… This other reason comes from a real will to be yourself and to match your outfit with your true personality. At last, those reasons make sense together with the arrival of the famous Y-generation, which grew up thinking that tuxedos are made only for congressmen…

Is this evolution strict and irreversible? The answer is no and it shows de facto its diversity! A senior executive can switch from suit-and-tie to a more casual outfit in a wink, according to his mood and the professional circumstances (outdoor meeting or office workday). Gone is the unique style by function!

What are the consequences and changes in the business life? First of all, it teaches us that we should prevent any judgement only based upon someone’s appearance, even if it really doesn’t fit with our own standards. The famous words “clothes do not make the man” is even more appropriate than before. The second change is more profound because it comes with concrete modifications in the way we work. The crave of being free and yourself in the style you display is part of a whole thing which, after all, indicates a new way of “working as you want”. Precisely, it results in work spaces which have to be evolutionary and match with this desire of “working as you want”.

Private offices are of course still highly valued, but companies must offer more and more perks to its workers and clients, such as relaxing spaces and associated services (the famous Silicon Valley syndrome with table tennis and baby-foot sets in the recreation rooms). Ideally, they should also add extra business locations away from the headquarters, saving their workers and business partners a daily 2-hour commute. Everybody wins in it.

As you may have guessed it, a wind of freedom blows stronger and stronger over the matter of the workers’ outfit! Keep in mind though, this change does not mean strictly that the wear of ties is a fading memory, because who says freedom says also freedom of wearing a nice suit-and-tie… only for the pleasure of it! Enjoy your business!

  • .