Does What you Wear to Work Affect Your Productivity? Here’s What the Science Says


Female office worker seated at a desk in comfortable casual wear

Working from home may have allowed you to fulfil a dream of working in your PJs. But you may have wondered if your sloppy attire made you feel a little too comfortable, and your productivity took a hit? Many argue that formal workwear isn’t comfy or conducive to work either. We’ll examine what the studies tell us about how our clothing choices impact our work.  

The Importance of Comfortable Work Clothes

UK studies have found 61% of employees are more productive when the dress code is relaxed. They don’t want a corporate dress policy dictating how they will turn up to work each day, with 80% claiming their organisation’s dress policy is unhelpful.

When employees are allowed to wear clothes they like, they’re more likely to feel confident and productive overall. It’s one of the main reasons organisations have relaxed their dress code in recent years.

Workers feel they can express themselves with their clothes which aid in morale. And higher morale translates to happy workers who are more collaborative, so the volume of completed work increases

Some people have found working from home difficult because their mind isn’t in work mode and they struggle with being as productive as they could be. Having a morning shower and getting dressed in comfortable work attire can be enough for the brain to switch into gear so you feel more productive. It’s just as important at the end of the day to change out of your work clothes as a signal to the brain that work time is over and leisure time has begun

How Clothes Impact on Your Mental Performance

A paper reported workers who wore formal business attire compared to casual wear had increased abstract thinking, which helps with creativity and strategizing during cognitive tests. It’s thought their clothing gave respondents a feeling of power.

Another study revealed men who dressed up for work were better at negotiating than two other groups who dressed down. Those who were well dressed had higher testosterone levels. 

How Others Perceive You Based on Your Clothing Choices

Slight deviations of clothing norms are also seen as positive because it shows the individual is powerful enough to risk the social cost of being seen in clothing that’s a little different.  

Students were asked to rank the teaching and researching skills of two professors. The students ranked the casually dressed professor more highly after being told he worked at a prestigious university with formal dress codes. They viewed the professor’s casual dress as a sign of his level of autonomy and control.  

The UK study also found 68% of workers were more likely to trust a well-dressed colleague to do a good job than a colleague who didn’t make an effort with their appearance.

Combining Casual Clothes with a Work Mindset

What we wear in our work and leisure time is very individualistic. What one person wears can have no impact at all on their productivity, while for others, the wrong attire can spell disaster for their productivity.

The line between work and home life has become blurred as more people work from home or bring work home after hours. The dress code has similarly become blurred, making it hard for those people who feel more productive when they’re dressed for work but want to conform with the casual dress code. But it’s possible to accommodate both.

If your office wears jeans, have work jeans and weekend jeans, so you don’t feel like you’re always wearing work clothes. If you want your wardrobe to be both leisure and work, you can still feel in work mode by making some subtle changes. You might have shoes, jewellery and accessories you only wear to work.  

Only you know what is and isn’t appropriate to wear into your office. But one thing we do know is what we wear to work impacts our productivity. Find an attire that works for you and stick to it! 

If you’re looking to improve the health and wellbeing of your employees with ergonomic equipment, call Ergolink on (08) 9240 7066 or contact us online.