The Evolution of Office Attire


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TheEvolution of Office Attire

Officialdress codes have changed considerably in the past five decades.Currently, the appropriate corporate clothes are composed of cleanand casual business clothes such as dresses, shirts, neckties amidstother formal wear that are only required in specific areas such aslaw offices and the financial sector. The previous official attirescomposed of standard formal clothing and dress codes that firmlyplaced rules on what was acceptable and unacceptable for both men andwomen while in the offices. Currently, women’s dressing has becomewider to include suits as an addition to the ordinary dresses, skirtsand blouses. Men’s clothes have also expanded to include the usualgarments and bright colors (Dress Code, 2015).

Unlikethe formal business wear such as suits and neckties, the smart casualdress code has no universally accepted definition. Its applicationvaries from one organization to the other to the extent that itappears as sartorial confusion among the workers. In general, thesmart-casual can be defined as dressing professionally, neat, pulledup together and yet looking relaxed. It is defined as the mid-groundbetween official dress code and the street dress code. The smartdress codes as used by organizations involves for men: a shirt with acollar (polo shirt) combined with a cotton trouser and for women, atennis shirt and trousers. The smart casual dress code does notassociate with neckties unless they are worn in non-traditional ways.However, the acceptance of blue jeans combined with denim has beenobserved to vary from one organization to another since they aresometimes considered as being sloppy (Dress Code, 2015).

Today,casual wear is commonly referred to as the “smart casual”. It isa modern dress code that emerged in offices especially in the westerncountries back in the 90’s.The trend is mostly common in the UnitedStates and Canada. The trend is believed to have emerged from amongthe information technology businesses in Silicon Valley. Presently inthe American business districts, there are fewer people in suits andties. The trend in the United States began as ‘casual Friday’ andlater developed into ‘casual every day’ (Dress Code, 2015).

Thehistory behind the casual wear happened as a result of guerillamarketing and was supported by flabby baby boomers. In 1992, Miller–the owner of Levi’s cloth line, and his team printed an assumingbrochure and called it ‘The guide to casual business wear’ thatshowed the various businesses casual looks with a majority involvingthe Dockers. The brochure was sent to 25,000 human resource managersall over the country. The human resource managers were supposed tohand over the brochures to their employees as a guide to what wasright from what was not. As a result, the Wall Street recognized theDockers as revolutionary. They set up a trend for business casualthat was adopted by the big and traditional companies such as Fordand IBM, which dropped the standard tradition of suits and ties. TheAlcoa Company in Pittsburg is also recorded to have adopted thebusiness casual attire to the executive level. During a visit to thecompany, one would not tell the difference between a weekday and aweekend (Dress Code, 2015).

Similarly,in 1966, the Hawaiian garment industry adopted a strategy to sellmore shirts. It involved encouraging Hawaiian businesses to allowtheir employees to wear casual attires while in the office once in aweek. The idea was referred to as ‘Aloha Friday’. Despite thestrategy being a marketing ploy, the idea later became a culturalstatement. The trick became so popular that it had a song that couldbe played in Hawaiian radios as the week was winding down. During the1990’s recession, Aloha Friday had drifted to the mainland. Themain reason for its rapid growth was due to the adoption of a `nocost perk` strategy by companies for their employees in a bid to maketheir employees feel more relaxed (Dress Code, 2015).


Dresscode: Thehistory of `business casual` (n.d.).Retrieved April 9, 2015, from