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Dressed For Distress

Is business casual in for a backlash?

This story appears in the March 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

There was a time when going to work meant putting on a suit and tie-now it's not unusual to see employees in jeans and sneakers. But are people going too casual?

According to a poll by employment law firm Jackson Lewis, 44 percent of managers noticed an increase in tardiness and absenteeism when casual dress policies were introduced, and 30 percent saw a rise in flirtatious behavior. "There's still a lot of confusion," says Ilene Amiel, founder of Scarsdale, New York-based Business Casual Publications Inc. Because words like "appropriate," "professional" and "businesslike" mean different things to different people, Amiel says, "businesses need to be clearer in how they describe 'appropriate.' "

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