‘Professional jobs’ account for 25.7 percent of the UK workforce, making this the occupation type with the highest percentage of workers.
But with so many professional roles now more flexible, and split between home and the office, have we considered the very real impact of how our clothing choices affect our productivity?
New research by menswear retailer Suit Direct reveals that over half of UK professionals (51.8%) agree they feel more productive when in smart attire
What sort of impact does our choice of clothes have on our performance at work?
Despite casual wear seemingly overtaking office attire in the working-from-home revolution, research by Suit Direct shows that over half of UK professionals wear a suit or smart attire to the office either all the time or most of the time (50.9%).
One in five (20%) surveyed don’t feel confident in what they wear at work, but the study showed that by wearing a suit or smart attire, people felt more productive (52%), decisive (59%) and authoritative (78%).
When it comes to getting the job done, getting suited and booted also makes people more likely to power through their to-do list, with over four-fifths of professionals feeling like they are more or significantly more productive when wearing a suit or smart attire compared to casualwear.
Men in particular prefer wearing a suit or smart attire to the office (42.4%), but unfortunately over one in six (17%) say they don’t feel confident in what they wear to work.
Dr Kathryn Brownbridge, Senior Lecturer in Fashion Design at Manchester Met University commented on the research saying: “My own research shows that some men are impacted by body-related issues and feel critical about their own bodies which can impact their confidence at work.
“Men that are uncomfortable about their bodies will be looking for clothing that can flatter, disguise, and accentuate certain areas. If they find a suit that does that, they may find themselves feeling more confident.”
Catriona Morrison, Dean of Science at The University of Law, sheds some light on why people feel more productive depending on how they dress:
“The way we dress indicates something about our identity and how we feel. Regardless of work context, the clothes, or uniforms that we wear can indicate something about our professional identity, and the values we hold and promote as a professional.
“A key factor that affects our well-being at work, and thus our productivity, is our ‘fit’ with the workplace environment. Demonstrating this might be about adopting the clothes or uniforms expected in our professions of choice or whether we feel respected and valued by our colleagues, which can be related.
“When we feel more comfortable in the workplace, the downstream effects on productivity cannot be overestimated. For many, a distinction between home and work life starts at the end of each working day with the shedding of our work clothes. This symbolic shift to our personal identity through the clothes that we don can also help to support our wellbeing by recharging when we are away from work.”
The experts at Suit Direct added: “Not feeling confident can have a huge impact on day-to-day life. Finding a style that suits you not only provides a way of freely expressing your personality, but as our research shows, can also influence your mindset in the workplace.
“Whether you like to mix up smart and casualwear or you’re a die-hard hoodie wearer, you might want to consider your wardrobe choices if you have a particularly long to-do list.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.