BusinessSep 11th 2021 edition

The pandemic has refashioned corporate dress codes

Suits v sweatpants

In an internal memo to staff in 2016 JPMorgan Chase relaxed its dress code. The American bank’s 240,000 employees could hang up their suits and don business-casual attire—once reserved for casual Fridays—all working week. Some garments remained beyond the pale (t-shirts, flip-flops, tank tops, yoga pants). But many—polo shirts, skirts (of appropriate length), dress sandals—became fair game.

JPMorgan was, sartorially speaking, ahead of its time among stuffy corporate giants (turtlenecks and hoodies have long been the fashion choice of Silicon Valley titans). Others followed suit, as it were. Men’s corporate uniform—and the female power suit designed to mirror it—increasingly came to be seen as a vestige of the male-dominated offices of yore and no longer fit for purpose in a world of greater (though still imperfect) workplace equality. As more and more people ran or cycled to work, they found that changing into a full suit was impractical, since jackets folded into rucksacks tend to lose their crispness.