In a heated debate over workplace attire, UK employees have voiced their opinions on dress codes, sparking discussions about the acceptability of shorts, strappy tops, sandals, and ties.

The latest research conducted by instantprint sheds light on the prevailing sentiments regarding dress codes among office workers in the UK.

The survey, encompassing a diverse range of respondents, uncovered intriguing insights:

An overwhelming 80 percent of participants believe that employers should have the authority to establish and enforce dress codes in the workplace.

About 36 percent of respondents expressed their support for restrictions on tattoos and piercings in the dress code policy.

Approximately 30 percent of participants favored dress codes but called for greater flexibility and less stringent rules.

In the face of rising living costs, only 7 percent of respondents reported spending £100 – £150 on workwear.

Gender differences emerged, with nearly one in five men stating they had never been dress coded, while over 2 in 5 women confirmed they had experienced dress code enforcement.

Since the onset of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, 32 percent of employers have implemented a “casual – I can wear what I like, but nothing inappropriate” dress code, reflecting the changing dynamics of the modern workplace.

Dress codes: to enforce or not to enforce?

The research delved into whether employers in the UK still impose dress codes. Unsurprisingly, 74 percent of respondents indicated that their employers do have dress codes, while 21 percent reported no dress code policy. Only a minor 5 percent of respondents stated that they wear a uniform. However, adherence to these dress codes varied among the participants.

Remarkably, 80 percent of respondents believe that employers should have the authority to set and enforce dress codes, leaving only 18 percent in disagreement.

A closer examination of the responses revealed that 60 percent of those who opposed dress codes were below the age of 35, compared to only 10 percent of respondents aged 45 and above. Additionally, merely 5 percent of individuals in the 18-24 age range supported dress codes. It appears that older generations prefer maintaining traditional dress codes, while millennials and Gen X seek a more relaxed work environment. This inclination may be attributed to the extensive experience of remote work during the pandemic, where a smart shirt for video calls and casual attire behind the scenes sufficed.

Dressing for different industries

The survey also examined the presence of dress codes and uniforms across various industries. Notable findings include:

Industries with the highest likelihood of having dress codes:

Real Estate and Housing: 100%

Non-profit and Charity: 89%

Business and Information: 83%

Finance and Insurance: 75%

Education: 71%

Industries where dress codes do not typically apply:

Agriculture: 63%

Creative, Arts & Design: 29%

Nature Resources/Environment: 19%

Marketing, Advertising & PR: 12%

Construction, Utilities & Contracting: 11%

Industries that interact extensively with the public tended to lean toward implementing uniforms. Sales, leisure, motor vehicle, manufacturing, and health services emerged as the sectors with the highest percentage of uniform requirements.





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 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.