What Fashion Week Can Teach Us About Office Dress Code

Written by: Christina Merhar
Originally published on February 26, 2015. Last updated February 5, 2018.

What Fashion Week Can Teach Us About Office Dress CodeFrom New York to London, major cities are hosting Fashion Week this month. As designers reveal their newest collections and models strut the runway, the up and coming fashion trends are revealed. Which makes me think: What, if anything, can we learn about office dress code from this spring’s Fashion Week?

Here are four quick things small and growing businesses can learn about office dress code from Fashion Week.

1. Power Suits are Back

According to Glamour, updated power suits, shirt dresses, trouser suits, long-line blazers, and other office-inspired styles were big on this spring's Fashion Week runways. This is great news for companies who require a more professional office dress code. 

And, if you think your company is a lone-horse in requiring professional dress, you could be wrong. A recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that only 34 percent of bosses “officially permit” employees to dress casually to the office every day - a significant drop from 53 percent a decade ago.

2. Find Your Company’s Style

Say the names Marc Jacobs or Calvin Klein and you immediately have a style in mind. Just as these top designers carve out their signature styles, your company is unique. Your office dress code should reflect what your company is all about.

For example, if you’re a youthful, trendy, outdoors company - a casual dress code may embody your brand. If you’re a growing, savvy, professional company - don’t be afraid to require a more professional office dress code, especially if your business requires face to face meetings with clients, vendors, or prospects.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Different

Fashion Week also teaches us that it’s okay to be different. Being different, in fact, is what separates us from others. It helps shape our unique branding and company culture.

There are a lot of trends in office dress code. However, don’t adopt a trend just because it’s the popular thing to do. Yes, your employees might really appreciate a casual dress code. But, is it an appropriate reflection of your company brand? Does it attract the right employees to work for your company? If the answer is yes - go for it. If the answer is no - find the right office dress code that does.

4. There’s Always Controversy

During Fashion Week, there is always controversy. Designers spark imaginations, and push the envelope on fashion. This is one factor that makes it so magical.

As any small business owner or manager knows, office attire can spark a bit of controversy as well. How do you handle complaints or argument about the dress code? First, have a policy in writing. Second, have an open dialogue with employees about why the office dress code is in place, and how it is meant to help the company succeed.


Just as fashion is a personal expression of who you are personally, your company’s office dress code is an expression of your company's brand. Take lessons from Fashion Week and remember that professional suits always make a statement, find your company’s style, don’t be afraid to be different, and embrace the controversy.


Originally published on February 26, 2015. Last updated February 5, 2018.


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