DAVENPORT, Iowa — Dan McCoy is a service specialist at the St. Ambrose IT Department. Every day, he comes into work with his slacks, a polo shirt, and loafers — a comfortable business casual. His coworkers could be wearing anything from a full button-up shirt and tie to a t-shirt and jeans, depending on their position. This has changed from five years ago, because like many businesses around the company, the IT department’s dress code has become increasingly casual.
According to an article written by the LA Times, in which they surveyed a number of senior business owners, more than half of them said that compared to five years ago, the dress code in their workplace is more casual. Slightly less than half of them also added that they believed it was “too casual.” So if managers are not as on board with this, why is it happening?
Part of this change can absolutely be due to the increasing number of millennials in the work force. Compared to the baby boomer generation that began joining the work force in the 70s, millennials tend to be more laid back at work. The focus has become less on the work place, and more on the work. Numbers of self employed individuals, and people who work form home, have increased dramatically in 20 years as well.
McCoy, who is nearly 30, is in support of dress codes. Outside of IT, he also works for Best Buy as part of their “Geek Squad,” a unit that helps users repair and setup computers. The Geek Squad is known for their rigid white shirt, black pants and tie dress code, which according to McCoy helps them stand out.
“If we didn’t’ have that, we’d be no different than Mike’s down the street,” he said. “I think it provides some culture, some identity.”
Kyle Snyder is a work study at St. Ambrose, and echoes McCoy’s statements.
“No one’s judged by anyone else, everyone’s got the same clothes,” he said. “We’re all equal. I think it’s better for the younger generation to start that way.”
So imagine that you begin work as a computer programmer, and spend half your day in the office, and half your day at home doing some extra time. Is a dress code necessary for you? Does it help you succeed?
According to an article and report done by the Wall Street Journal in summer of 2016, dressing to impress still has a strong effect on both the wearer, and the viewer. In the 70s, John T. Malloy came up with the phrase “dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” and whereas the concept may not be as strong today as it was then, it still has weight. A manager may pay more attention to an employee if he comes to work dressed sharply with a blazer and a tie every morning than someone who comes in with a wrinkly button up. Dressing more formally can also have an effect on your own attitude.
“I think if I was in a suit, I would be more motivated, feel awake,” said Taylor Bruns, another work study at IT. “Right now I feel tired, ‘cause I’m in sweats. But if I have a skirt and coat with some heels on, I feel more confident.”
However, Bruns also thinks that dress codes can sometimes be too formal. If you’re not heavily involved in customer service, she feels that dress code should mostly be up to the employees.
“Yes, there should be a code in that I don’t think people should come to a job in this,” she said, motioning to her sweatpants and hoodie. “I don’t feel like normal people would go to work in this, though. I think a strict code could be dropped. When people go to work they just naturally ‘get ready for work.’ I don’t think they should have to wear something specific.”
It’s hard to say what will happen with dress codes as we go forward. With companies all over the country lowering their standards for dress codes, how far will be too far?