When I left my first reporter job on a local paper to join the world of PR, I remember one of my colleagues in the newsroom sarkily saying I’d have to stock up on shoulder pads.
(It was probably the same joker who gave me a Happy Retirement card, to be honest).
They were half-right with the power dressing dig (and 100 per cent wrong about the hard work and busy schedules involved in the PR industry!). In the mid-2000s my PR pals and I came to the office dressed, if not in suits, then in smart skirts or trousers paired with blouses and shirts.
Fast forward a decade or so and it would appear, based on our If You Ask Me contributors, my current colleagues, and the offices I visit on reporter duties for unLTD, that the suit, if not entirely given the boot, has certainly gone out of fashion for today’s workforce.
Indeed it was chatting with Benchmark Recruit that inspired this month’s If You Ask Me when I confessed that I felt doing an interview with a recruitment firm meant I ought to wear a blouse and black trousers rather than my usual smart jeans and top look. So it’s interesting that Rebecca from Benchmark points out: ‘Traditionally people are told to ‘dress to impress’ at interview but we are now hearing accounts that this is a turn-off to certain employers.
‘We know of job seekers attending interviews who have been suited and booted in smart attire and this has resulted in the opposite effect of actually putting off a potential employer.’
A friend of mine is a prime example. The recruitment agency called to say she had a last-min interview with a firm after 5pm on her day off. It was a train ride away and she didn’t have time to do her normal prep – take out her nose piercing and several of her earrings, swap her every day wear for a suit – but got the job, because she looked like herself and not a corporate clone.
As Louise from BHP says: “There was a time when every professional, in any industry – especially accountancy, would put a suit on every morning but this just doesn’t sit with us anymore. By implementing a ‘Dress for your Diary’ policy people can now adapt what they wear according to their schedule.”
Katy from Razor meanwhile tells us: ‘More relaxed dress codes have long been the norm for many tech companies, who have waved goodbye to suits and A-line skirts, welcoming polo shirts and jeans in their place.’
Staff at employee owned Gripple are happy to wear their branded clothing and to be associated with the company, although it is not obligatory. ‘Whether it be a crisp white shirt in the office areas or a dark blue polo shirt on the factory floor there is pride in the success of Gripple,’ Emma shares.
On another note, over at Mantra Media HQ, last month’s cover star Johnny Pawlik and his team observe the Japanese custom of removing footwear when they enter the building. Staff and visitors can switch shoes for slippers if they prefer not to be barefoot and store their shoes in racks in the lobby. Johnny feels it helps staff feel more connected to the workspace as well as more comfortable.
The only downside to dressing for your diary in a busy industry (like PR!) is the potential for last-min meetings to be booked in, so a word of warning from Benchmark: Always be prepared, having a backup outfit stored at work.
Just like unLTD editor Richard Fidler with shirt, tie and jacket – you’ll never find him looking less than dapper at a minute’s notice!