It’s the end of an era as casual dress codes are being embraced by even the old guards of polished style.
It wasn’t that long ago that most industries imposed strict dress codes for employees which would be considered repressive by today’s standards. In the 80s “dressing for success” and “power dressing” were expressions widely embraced by work culture. Dress codes of the past not only enforced strict rules but relied heavily on antiquated sartorial notions for how men should dress like men and women should dress like women.
Not surprisingly guidelines for women have been more stringent—pantyhose, pearls, and prudent styles were required in the workplace. As early as the 90s women were forbidden to wear pants in Congress. But these strict dictates of dress have very slowly been chipped away at since then.
The first remarkable move away from polished, co-ordinated, and tailored dressing came to us via Seattle with the popularity of the Grunge Movement. But denim’s soaring trendiness also contributed to the favored relaxed looks for the up-and-coming Baby Boomer’s and Gen-Xer’s.
Since then we have slowly cultivated new levels of casual dressing in our daily lives from how we dress for work, the opera, and to the airport. Airports seem to be a particular spectacle of just how casually people will dress when they fly. Travelers wearing pajamas and flip-flops stepping onto the jetway with the pillow from their bedroom tucked under their arm is sadly something that we have all witnessed.
However, the loosening-up of of dress codes in conservative fields like finance and law seemed to be the holdout in adapting to the modern spirit of casual dress. That was until now.
It appears casual dress codes are no longer just for IT companies, the opera, and airports. Recently Goldman Sachs announced its new attitude toward a more relaxed work environment with a new dress code. A memo went out stating, “Goldman Sachs has a broad and diverse client base around the world, and we want all of our clients to feel comfortable with and confident in our team, so please dress in a manner that is consistent with your clients’ expectations.”
Without mentioning the specifics of this new dress code the memo also stated, “casual dress is not appropriate every day and for every interaction. … All of us know what is and is not appropriate for the workplace.”
Everyone has different approaches to dressing casual and defining the perimeters of such is not a bad idea for industries charting new territories because one person’s understanding of appropriate dress is another person’s indifference. Perhaps if there was a dress code for getting on a plane we would all have a more pleasant flight.
Dress codes may seem passé nowadays but a few guidelines certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Eat well, laugh a lot, and be chic!