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The new meaning of ‘office attire’

Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg.
Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg.
David Ramos/Getty Images

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It’s no secret that office dress codes have evolved since the 1962 inception of Casual Friday.

New rules on the way we dress for work have been adopted by both private companies and government organizations, with a twist that leans more toward Chuck Taylors and T-shirts than suits and ties.

Tech giants like Facebook have famously put the casual in business casual, but some changes address more than independence from a business suit.

Last year, the New York City Commission on Human Rights announced new guidelines that prohibited different dress code requirements based on sex or gender.

And company leaders aren’t the only ones deciding what to wear to work. How employees dress has become an interpretation of their individualities. But that can be a double edged sword. What’s appropriate to one person may be unprofessional to another, and how do these new wardrobe choices reflect on the image of the workplace?

Who should determine workforce dress code; the institution or the employee? What purpose does dress code serve? Are employees more productive when they get to choose their attire?


Susan Scafidi, Founder & Academic Director, Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School