Is the suit and tie chocking Tech employees?

Do dress code’s influence where we work? Casual attire is often viewed as a way to blur the boundaries between work and home life and create a more relaxed condition for work.


In the findings of a UK research paper published by The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) in 2016; the owners and managers sampled had highlighted the need for employees to present themselves in line with the firm’s brand positioning. In the case of Tech moguls like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Steve Jobs, their dressed down look became a leadership trademark that reflected the attire of Silicon Valley’s work force, a staple of T-shirt and jeans.



In a recent research poll conducted by Style Compare, it revealed that the UK’s tech workers were having a very different sartorial experience to their Silcon Valley contemporaries. Amongst the IT workers polled, 29% had considered leaving their company due to the enforcement of a smart dress code. Out of all the respondents 38% of women and 40% of men across different industries, described the business clothing required for work included dark suits, ties, business wear for women and no jeans.


UK entrepreneurs like Richard Branson who established his Virgin empire in the 1970s, wrote in his blog, ”everyone is encouraged to wear what they think will help them to work most productively – you won’t find a tie in sight”. Business giant Goldman Sachs, allowed casual clothes for their engineering and technology staff in a bid to attract talent. Their concern that the dress down code of tech companies was attractive to today’s young workers.


28% of the Style Compare survey were 18-34 year olds, the Millennial generation who have grown up seeing the triumphant dressed down Silicon Valley leaders. A sentiment also reflected in Branson’s blog were here states: “If people got rid of unnecessary hierarchies and formalities, they would have a lot more fun and get a lot more done.”


Zuckerberg’s casual staple dress of T-shirt and jeans came about from his desire to remove unnecessary decision making from his day to day life and therefore get more done. An employer has the right to require a particular dress code for staff to follow. This could be for health and safety reasons or to support their companies image. Dress codes are lawful when they match requirements of a job but staff can dispute these rules.



The advice drawn from the Acas research findings recommended that consultation with staff on how to dress at work could help both to discover what was considered to be acceptable. The technology sector is young and other non-tech companies like Goldman Sachs can see the appeal of Silicon Valley’s culture and aesthetic to the younger generation. Is the old school tie mentality of UK bosses choking the tech-millennials dreams?



From the Style Compare survey conducted by OnePoll, interviewees described their employees dress code in the following way:



Dress code Description Women Men
Business Strict business dress code: Dark suits, ties for men. Smart business wear for women. Grooming guidance given as part of dress code. 7.04% 10.16%
Relaxed business Smart dress code, but flexible. Suits and ties recommended, but not mandatory. No jeans. 32.84% 29.04%
Smart casual Smart casual dress code: Smart jeans permitted, casual shoes, knitwear permitted. 19.79% 18.45%
Casual Casual dress code: No items of clothing specified, but ripped jeans, trainers, sportswear not permitted. 13.20% 13.02%
No dress code Anything goes. Employees explicitly told they can wear what they want. 15.10% 17.45%
Undefined No guidance on what to wear at all. 12.02% 11.87%


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