Dressed For Distress

Is business casual in for a backlash?
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the March 2001 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine. 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.' "

Most of the backlash seems to come when "people confuse casual with sloppy," says Mary Lou Andre, image consultant and editor of DressingWell.com. "What we're seeing from clients is a desire to step it up a bit." Experts also point out that most of casual's critics come from the retail clothing industry-the same people who profit when people buy business suits.

Still, traditional business attire, aka business formal, has its devotees. StrataSys Corp., a technology consulting firm in Miami, has had a suit and tie policy since its 1995 inception (though they've adopted classic business casual Fridays). "[Business formal attire shows clients] our level of seriousness as it relates to business," says principal managing partner Arnie Girnun. "We're very serious about what we do."

On the other end of the spectrum, supercasual is the code at The Princeton Review, a provider of test preparations and college admissions services in New York City. Founded in 1981, the company has allowed casual dress from Day One, even before it was the rage. Says CEO John Katzman, "I've never seen a company go to a casual dress code and then find revenues plummeting."


Contact Sources

More from Entrepreneur

Grow Your Business at Entrepreneur LIVE! Join us on Nov. 16 in Brooklyn, NY, to learn from legends like Danica Patrick and Maria Sharapova, pitch our editors, meet with investors, and potentially walk away with funding!
Register here

One-on-one online sessions with our experts can help you start a business, grow your business, build your brand, fundraise and more.
Book Your Session

In as little as seven months, the Entrepreneur Authors program will turn your ideas and expertise into a professionally presented book.
Apply Now

Latest on Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.