With the rise of Casual Fridays in the 90s, workplaces have leaned towards more casual dress codes. Workplace attire has flipped into a comfort-over-style mindset instead of the traditional style-over-comfort mindset (as I sit in my t-shirt, shorts and vans at work). The thinking behind this is that we are supposedly more effective when we are more comfortable.
However, recent studies have challenged this. A Yale study from 2014 showed that participants that were in suits and ties were more profitable and made less concessions in their business deals (see the Wall Street Journal article about it here). Another study in 2015 showed that dressing formally actually changed the way we think. All confirming that the statement, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” still has some merit in increasing our job performance.
At the same time, it is hard to argue against wanting our clothes to be comfortable. Especially when we’re at work. If the uncomfortable chairs were not enough, wearing a suit and tie is definitely putting salt on the wound. It’s not hard to see why working from home is an aspirational dream. Staying in your pajamas all day while you work on your bed, couch, beanbag, or all of the above sounds like the most comfortable way to work. Sweatpants, yoga pants, athletic shirts are clear winners in comfort when against slacks, blazers and button ups (no wonder athleisure is so prevalent).
So at the end of the day, is it style-over-comfort or comfort-over-style? What is the trade-off between being more effective by dressing up or being more effective by feeling comfortable?
Perhaps there does not need to be a trade-off. Blue and White Collar has shirts that make no compromise between style and comfort. Their shirts parallel the comfort of working in pajamas while maintaining the class of dressing up. You can still dress formally while feeling comfortable in its performance material.