31 Days

Day 13

Dress for Productivity

Words by Ethan Thomas

No matter what job you have, you've got to wear clothes to it, right? But does what you wear actually affect your job? Throughout the years in the business environment, dress codes were instituted out of a belief that more professional attire was not only appropriate, but made for a better worker.

Silicon Valley on HBO

And despite whatever reasoning you likely breezed through in your employee handbook, the fact is people today want to be comfortable. Businesses are slowly but steadily beginning to catch up. What began in the tech and startup world has since bled into other industries: In just five years, the percentage of US workplaces allowing casual dress every day went from 32% to over 50%, according to a 2019 analysis by Indeed. What's more, almost two-thirds of companies now allow for casual clothing at least one day per week.

And while it might seem like the more comfortable you are, the less motivated you may be to work hard, the actual data points to the exact opposite. Over 60% of those surveyed in a Stormline study said they're more productive when dress codes are relaxed.

A casual dress code removes the perceived financial burden of a professional wardrobe and people tend to be happier and confident when they're in comfortable clothes. This isn't scientific, but we figure if you're relaxed and confident at work, you'll be performing pretty damn well too. Of course, there are still things you can do to look polished.

Embrace That Every Day
Is Different

The majority of people working in an office will tell you that their wardrobe needs vary from day to day. Some days you're sitting at your desk for hours on end and others you're meeting with an important partner or client. Each scenario has a different need, so make sure you dress for each accordingly. A blazer isn't necessary every day, but when meeting your boss's boss's boss, it might be a good idea to toss one on.

Casual Doesn’t
Mean Sloppy

All of this isn't to say that you should be showing up to work in ratty sweats or rumpled shirts. This is still a place of business. And a sense of decorum and professionalism is needed—even if your boss is cool with everyone wearing jeans and T-shirts. The study also found that workers still have the most confidence in colleagues who put an effort into their appearance and look thoughtfully dressed. So, it seems, there's still something to be said for dressing for the job you want.

Be Confident

What we wear affects our confidence. And we should all feel great in our clothes. Your wardrobe, especially at work, should reflect who you are and showcase your best self. This isn't always attainable, but it's something to always consider. Whatever your work outfit calls for—suit and tie, T-shirt and jeans, lab coat, hard hat—make sure you feel your best in it.


Goldman Sachs employee handbook

In 2019, Goldman Sachs officially moved to "a firm-wide flexible dress code," simply asking employees to “dress in a manner that is consistent with your clients' expectations.”