As recently as 2016, Britons had been opposed to seeing men’s knees at the office
As Britain basks – or wilts – in the sunshine, many workers will be hoping to keep cool by dressing more casually at the office.
If so, then the results of a new YouGov RealTime survey will come as good news. The data reveals that men’s shorts are now widely regarded as acceptable office attire. Two thirds (66%) of Britons say it’s ok for men to wear shorts in the office, with just 29% disagreeing.
It wasn’t always this way. As recently as 2016, a majority of Britons (56%) frowned at the prospect of being able to see men’s knobbly knees in the office, while slightly more than a third (37%) were supportive.
Older Britons – those aged 55 and above – are less likely to find shorts acceptable, although even among this group they are permitted by 50% to 43%. In the 2016 study, all age groups were either opposed or divided on the matter.
This time round the survey also asked whether women wearing shorts in the office is acceptable, with the results identical to those for men.
Other new additions to the survey include men wearing t-shirts at the office, which 73% say is acceptable, and women wearing tops that expose the midriff, which Britons say is unacceptable by 60% to 32%.
Women are particularly opposed to this, with 75% considering it unacceptable, while men are divided 46% to 44%. There is also a generational divide, with most (57%) of the youngest Britons – 18-24 year olds – saying it is ok.
Attitudes are becoming more permissive towards office attire across the board
Attitudes towards all items of clothing returning from the 2016 survey have become more positive. While no others see quite the improvement of shorts for men, people are now even more ok with men forgoing ties around the office (92% say this is acceptable, up 5pts), women wearing skirts or dresses above the knee (81%, up 7pts), and the wearing of sandals (70%, up 9pts).
People are also more disposed towards the wearing of vest tops (35%, up 14pts) and flip flops (28%, up 9pts) although these are both still frowned upon by most people.
The latest wave of this survey was conducted on 19-20 July 2022, during the hottest day on record. It is clearly possible that the sweltering temperatures may have influenced the results for some people – further research will determine to what extent this might have had an impact.