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Further’s Marketing Dress Code Survey 2018

Further noticed that many fellow marketing professionals were confused about what to wear for work – and whether to change it for different contexts. And so we conducted the Marketing Dress Code Survey 2018 to find out what marketing professionals think about dress codes in the industry, ‘code switching’ and how ideas about what is acceptable are changing. We surveyed more than 100 marketing professionals from around the UK. Here are the results:

Key findings:

  • Despite being generally smart and adjusting how they dress for different occasions, marketing professionals still don’t have complete clarity on what is acceptable as rules/views continue to change
  • 75% of marketing professionals say they dress smart or smart casual
  • 89% adjust how they dress depending on the occasion
  • 50% of people have thought others have been inappropriately dressed (is it the same 50% who admitted that, on occasion, they wished they’d dressed differently?)
  • 58% think marketers struggle with knowing what to wear and think rules of dress in marketing are still changing – becoming more relaxed
  • More than 28% say their workplace has no dress code, 43% say it’s ‘smart casual’
  • Young marketers are more casual and think about what they wear less
  • Unlike agencies, in-house marketers are more formal, follow company-wide dress codes and don’t struggle knowing what to wear
  • Women marketers dress more formally than men, think about it more, are more likely to dress differently depending on the occasion and don’t see ideas of what is acceptable as changing as much as men do.

Our sample:

52% male
48% female

18-26 years old – 14%
27-35 – 37%
36-45 – 35%
46-55 – 12%
56+ – 2%

52% in-house marketing teams
48% agency

Do you think marketing professionals struggle with knowing what to wear? (What’s smart? Is cool the new smart? Traditional client, international client? Our office, their office?)

58% said yes.

 

Additional comments:

“Our dress code is smart business for customer visits, events etc. and dressed-down for internal office days.”

“Smart casual, but always a shirt… unless it’s a very hot day.”

“No dress code for the office – smart when meeting clients or networking”

“’Agency’ smart casual. Smart casual for meetings, but casual is okay internally.”

“Smart for clients”

 

How much do you think about what you wear before work?

Literally not at all – 6%
A little – 20%
Probably an average amount for a human with a job – 42%
A fair amount – 25%
Super-conscious of what I wear to work – 8%

 

Other:

The fashion sense-ible

“Clean, contemporary casual”
“Comfy, clean and creaseless”
“Designed to make my clients feel comfortable”
“Cute and practical”
“Casual, comfortable and smart enough ‘just in case’”
“Inoffensive classic”
“Smart but comfortable. I have to feel like myself at work and not forced to be something I am not”
“M&S going strong”
“Scrubs up well”

The in-crowd

“Creative smart, slightly Boho”
“Vintage / quirky dresses and jumpsuits”
“Cool dad threads”
“Casual hipster attempt”
“Media babe smart”
“Coloured coordinated, quirky scarf!”
“Shabby chic”
“Not high fashion, but not unfashionable!”
“Casually trendy one”

Other others…

“I really need a new wardrobe!”
“Primark chic. Ain’t no one got money to splurge on clothes just for work.”
“Meh…”

If dress codes for marketers are changing, how are they changing?

Most people said that dress codes are becoming more relaxed – especially agency-side:

“Smart casual is still becoming the norm. However, as a professional services marketer, I have no choice but to reflect [a client’s] dress code. I would like to move away from the smarter dress, but that doesn’t work in my role.”

“After working in marketing for nearly 30 years I was told by a young colleague that I probably needed a new work wardrobe! I dress smart for work because I don’t want to have to think about what I wear. The expectation now is that work wear is much more casual than when I started working.”

“In the creative/marketing industry, it is becoming acceptable to show your personality, but also the personality of your company. There need to be boundaries: no band t-shirts to a client meeting, for example, but then, if they are a music production company it might be acceptable! It’s about having a style but knowing your audience.”

Some talked about the confusion:

“Casual dressing with smart dress for clients is still not clear.”

“Employees are having to second guess or interpret guidelines and so what is the norm continues to evolve”

Culture is always changing, ergo ideas about what constitutes acceptable work attire will always be changing.

Other comments:

“Dress codes depends on the industry. Professional services still expect smart dress, but this might change in the future.”

“Agencies are more relaxed [than non-marketing organisations].”

“Women still think they can dress as if they are going to the beach, even when they are meeting clients – revealing tops and skimpy skirts are unprofessional.”

“My bosses are stuck in the 1950s and believe we should dress smart, despite never having contact with customers.”

“The Mad Men times are over. Marketing folk try to express their creativity (instead of their credibility) in their style nowadays.”

Audience segments

 

Let us know what you think in the comments section and we may include them in updates of the article. Thanks!

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