The death of business attire? Just 7% of workers wear a suit to work

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
November 14, 2023, 5:51 PM GMT+0

“Smart casual” is the dress code for the largest number of workers

Wearing a suit to the office was once a default expectation, for men at least, but new YouGov data shows that just a small minority of workers continue to do so. Just 7% of workers say they don “business attire” at work, including 8% of male workers.

Even in ABC1 occupations (i.e. middle class jobs) just 10% say they wear a suit, and among those in ‘A’ occupations (those in higher managerial positions or professional occupations) this still only hits 13%.

The most common work dress is “smart casual attire”, which 34% of workers say describes what they wear to work. This is particularly common for female workers (43%) and those in middle class jobs (44%).

What counts as smart casual attire, you ask? A recent YouGov survey showed how Britons define it.

A quarter of workers (26%) say they wear “casual attire” at work, while one in five wear a work uniform provided by their employer (19%). Dedicated work uniforms are the most common among those in C2DE occupations (i.e. working class jobs) at 34%.

A further one in eleven workers (9%) say they wear safety workwear or protective clothing. This is more common among men (13%) and among C2DE workers (22%).

Unsurprisingly, those who work from home the whole time are more likely to dress casually than their counterparts who have to leave the house. Nevertheless, the suit remains firmly a thing of the past even for those who attend the workplace.

Only 7% of those workers who never work from home wear a suit to work, as do 11% who work from home some of the time. (Our question asked people who worked from home some of the time to answer based on what they wore to the workplace, rather than what they wore at home).

Those who never work from home split equally between wearing smart casual (30%) or a work uniform (31%). Most common among those who work from home some of the time is smart casual (49% - remember this applies to what they wear when they visit the office), while most of those who work from home the whole time wear casual attire (54%).

See the full results here

Photo: Getty

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