Summer heat creating ever more casual offices

Aug 05 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

The days of sweltering through the summer in a suit – whether male or female – may be numbered as an increasing proportion of workers are using the excuse of hot weather to dress down in offices.

Even though the British summer is notoriously unpredictable – with this year so far confounding predictions that it is going to be a scorcher – a poll by recruitment company Monster has found that more than six out of 10 UK workers prefer to wear smart/casual or casual clothes to work during the summer.

The poll of 2,060 British workers also found more than half – 55 per cent – want smart/casual to become the standard office garb, against a hardcore 20 per cent who wanted to retain suits as the uniform of business.

A total of 18 per cent felt people should be able to wear what they wanted and just seven per cent believed casual clothes alone should be the norm.

Although men still struggled with the necktie debate – whether you are tied to wearing a tie – it was equally difficult for women, who faced the "dare-to-bare" syndrome as the weather got hotter, said Monster.

Vest tops appeared to have risen in popularity in the office, as had the shorter skirt – although on or just above the knee tended to be the preferred length.

There had also been a significant rise in the popularity of the flip-flop, which was once relegated to the beach, but had now invaded offices in towns and cities.

"We've seen a real cultural-shift in work dress codes over the past few years. Dress- down-Fridays were the start of this a couple of years ago, but suits and ties are now declining in popularity as everyday wear," said Alan Townsend, Monster's regional managing director for UK and Ireland.

"It is now much more acceptable for British workers to wear casual clothes in the heat, although the level of casualness varies from industry to industry," he added.

Lawyers and those working in finance and banking tended to wear smarter clothes, even when the temperature rose, he suggested.

Those in the creative industries, such as advertising and PR and even in the IT sector, tended to more comfortable, casual clothes.

One general rule appeared to be that when you are meeting customers you are still expected to dress smartly regardless of the weather, said Monster.