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With Workplace Fashion, Are We Dressed To Kill the Deal?

When was the last time you washed your favorite hoodie? You know, the one you wear to your white-collar office job every other day? You think I'm joking, but a recent Regus survey finds that Casual Friday is not only worldwide, it's 3-6-5!

Our global economy feels like a race to the bottom, and now our workplace fashion sense is going down the drain, too. Regus surveyed 40,000 global employees from 100 countries for their current take on workplace dress codes, and almost three-fourths (74%) think the suit and tie is far "too formal" for work. Even a decent percentage of bankers -- bankers! -- are shedding the suit and tie as they hide money offshore.

The good news? Only 14% of global survey participants think flip-flops are okay to wear to work. Unless one lives in South Korea, however, where three-fourths of those surveyed think flip-flops are just fine for the office. Also, do you know that employees in China are partial to track suits? Track suits are office-ready wear for 72% of mainland Chinese employees and 45% of Hong Kong employees.

What's hot with our cousins across the Pond? Jeans and t-shirts, of course! Two-thirds of British employees surveyed think distressed jeans are just fine for the 2 p.m. team meet. I like to think of it as the Mark Zuckerberg effect in action. Basically, employees all over the world are dressing like the cast of the HBO hit show Silicon Valley, and it's all good! The high-fashion workplace exists only in comedic Meryl Streep movies.

Bottom line: No matter where you are in the world on business, chances are good that you can get away with wearing jeans, a t-shirt and sandals and still be taken seriously.

Another thing employees in a global economy have in common? Almost nine in 10 (86%) feel compelled to clean themselves up before sitting down to Skype a colleague or client! We're digging through the laundry basket looking for a clean shirt when our child points to the open closet and asks why there's a surf board in there.

Oh, that's not a surf board, sweetie. That's something called an 'ironing board.' It's for clothes. We'll try it out someday, I promise!**

The New York Times is running an article today about the disappearing workplace dress code, but the real question these days, at least to me, is whether we're dressed to kill the deal. What do our clients expect from us in terms of fashion, because they're the only ones we still need to impress. How many business deals are lost every day due to our sartorial choices?

I liked the proposal, but I just can't sign a multi-billion dollar deal with a guy who's wearing ripped jeans and a YOLO hoodie. Just, no. Dude looks like he lives out of a laundry basket. I bet his work habits are just as lazy.

Of course, there's still hope and change if 86% of employees feel the need to clean up before joining a video conference call. We don't care if our teammates think we dress like a complete slob, but we'll still make sort of an effort for outsiders.

The meaning of "dress for success" is changing, and we all must find a new balance (i.e., the non-sneaker kind) between what works for the office and what works for clients. Hint: layers.

Go ahead and wear a long, flowing blouse and Capri-style, black yoga pants paired with stylish accessories and bejeweled flats so you can close the deal! Consider this mixed fashion metaphor a CYA move on your part. Besides, it's a first rule of business that we need to strike while the iron is still hot, right?

** True story in my house.


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