In recent years, many companies have relaxed their dress or appearance codes with the belief that employees prefer lifestyles that are more casual. This new trend in office attire has produced a great deal of controversy in corporate America. Should employees dress casually in a business environment? Will casual dress codes reduce or improve productivity? Will companies attract and retain the right "type" of employees? Will the company image suffer? These and many other questions have caused concern in the business world. The larger question is; does business casual dress lead to casual business practices?
According to Supervision, by Hilgert and Leonard, "It is estimated that approximately half of the office workers in the United States are permitted to dress casually every business day, and 90 percent are permitted to wear casual clothes at work at least part of the time." (621) This sudden rise in relaxed office attire is a result of the success of the dot-com industry.
In the beginning of the dot-com phenomenon, it was visually shocking to have meetings with company executives that were dressed in jeans and t-shirts. Many traditional companies, wanting to embrace this new concept, decided to transition their own firms dress practice to business-casual or casual dress. In some fields, the transitions were minor but now casual dress has penetrated gradually into nearly every industry including traditional fields such as banking and financing.
In the never-ending battle to recruit and retain workers, many companies have discovered that allowing employees to dress more casually is a benefit that is free for the company to offer and saves employees on dry cleaning and clothing costs. Casual dress is a workplace advantage and prospective employees consider this additional benefit when exploring new job opportunities.
Many employers and employees feel that there is value in added...