Casual Everydays: Just 1 In 5 Offices Enforces Strict Dress Code, Survey Finds

NEW YORK — A formal dress code used to be synonymous with the American workplace, but according to a new survey of 2,000 working U.S. adults, that just isn’t the case anymore. Half of respondents say they only follow a casual, or “smart casual” dress code at work, which allows jeans and other dress-down clothing items. Furthermore, only one in five U.S. workplaces enforce a traditional smart dress code.

Another 23% say they consider their workplace to be “mostly smart,” that is, allowing for more casual touches in their work attire. Overall, 81% believe workplace attire has become more casual in all contexts over the past ten years. In fact, only 5% of respondents say they are required to wear specific items of clothing as part of a work uniform.

The survey was commissioned by the fashion search platform Lyst, as part of their larger research project on the prevalence of denim being worn in American offices.

“As work hours have increased and the ‘always on’ culture has come to prominence thanks to developments in tech and connectivity, the lines between our work lives and our home lives have blurred,” says a spokesperson for Lyst in a statement. “This meeting of worlds is reflected in our expected work dress codes. Work is no longer siloed off from the rest of our lives, and therefore it is right that the rules around dress codes in the workplace have become more relaxed.”

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Among respondents, 84% say that their jean collection is a key component of their overall style. On average, respondents report owning nine pairs of jeans, four of which they wear on a regular basis. Also, one in 12 respondents went so far as to say that they “live” in denim every day.

So, how often does the average working American get around to washing their beloved jeans? According to the survey, 20 times per year, which works out to once every 18 days. However, one in nine respondents admit they only wash their favorite pair once a year!

For what it’s worth, the survey consensus regarding the “perfect” pair of jeans is a $79 price tag, a light wash finish, and a straight leg. Still, more than a third of respondents prefer slim fit jeans, and a quarter like it tight: skinny fit is the way to go for them. Slightly more (27%) want more room in the leg and opt for boot cut denim.

But, what about denim beyond just jeans? Besides jean pants, a denim jacket was the second most popular denim item among respondents, with half stating at least one is hanging in their closets. Additionally, two in five respondents say they own a denim shirt, and one in four own a denim skirt.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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