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Analysing the work wardrobe: Corporate vs business casual

BySteve Stones

Oct 24, 2019 #Business

Wearing a uniform to work used to be non-negotiable, but in 2019, more and more workplaces are letting their employees make their own fashion choices. The idea of a uniform stems from companies wanting to offer the best level of customer service and make it easier for shoppers to locate someone who can help. Some sectors still require their workers to wear uniforms, but times are changing. The debate around uniforms vs casual clothing has spared discussion among uniform companies, so let’s take a closer look at the issue.

The alternative to dressing down

Although many young people like the idea of casual workwear for their nine to five, it can be problematic and not many brands seem to be considering this. Brands that have adopted the casual-clothing idea are seemingly allowing their staff to wear their own clothes that fit specific style/colour requirements at work, which could have a negative impact on their productivity, duties and other colleagues.

Your staff won’t fully understand what materials and styles work well for different jobs. If your staff decide to wear a tight material, this could prevent them from reaching up to a shelf for example — the limitations an item of clothing has on their abilities will be the last thing on their mind.

However, this doesn’t mean that brands can’t allow their staff to dress down, there’s just better ways to go around implementing such processes. With technology and design opportunities advancing at a rapid rate, uniform providers are now able to facilitate any requirements when it comes to corporate workwear — whether you opt for professional or a more relaxed style of attire. By opting for a professional service, you’ll won’t have to worry about design regulations that are required for your working environment that have been set out by governing bodies; as the responsibility will fall with them.

Not only this, they’ll likely organise a consultation with your business to fully understand the requirements of the job and how the uniform needs to be designed to meet them. It’s important to strike a balance between something that is practical with something that your staff feel proud to wear and feel like they’re part of something greater.

Presenting your brand

It’s no surprise that brands are switching up the ways that they present themselves to the public, as competition on the high-street continues to be a challenge that many businesses are facing. With reports suggesting that the high-street is experiencing a dramatic decline, stores are trying to become more innovative to improve customer and staff retention. Uniforms have recently become a big focus for many businesses.

To connect with customers on a personal level, more organisations are allowing employees to ‘dress-down’, to encourage uniqueness and to show shoppers that they’re able to adapt with the times.

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you may have noticed that Starbucks has loosened up its workwear requirements and made room for casual clothing. Previously, baristas would wear buttoned-up black or white shirts and black or khaki pants, accompanied with their signature green apron. But now, rules have become lax surrounding what they’re allowed to wear beneath the apron.

The choice of clothing has definitely expanded at this coffee chain in particular, and while rules still must be followed, staff have a lot more opportunity for self-expression. The Starbucks employee lookbook states that baristas can wear black, white, grey, navy and brown shirts as a solid or for a subdued, small-print, low-contrast pattern. However, sweatshirts, hooded shirts, cap-sleeve and short-sleeve V-neck or T-necks are forbidden.

Although you may remember some baristas wearing caps with a Starbucks logo, their options have now varied too, with flat caps, trilby hats and beanies becoming an option. Employees are also allowed to wear scarves, but they must be tucked behind their apron!

Investing in the future

It’s important for businesses to look at uniforms as a long-term investment, rather than an additional expense that they don’t need to encounter. Not only will uniforms allow you to stay within workwear regulations, it will also reduce the time you spend monitoring clothing if staff do choose to wear their own styles for work.

From an employee perspective though, while the idea of wearing their own clothes to work might be nice initially, it could become a burden as other expenses come into play. This could include rent, groceries as well as general clothing. If they have the responsibility to also purchase suitable workwear, this will be another deducting factor that comes out of their wage.

However, a set uniform would be a business’ responsibility and would create a unified brand image which would also be suitable for the workplace conditions. Have you considered a corporate uniform for your employees?

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