There are few conclusive statistics on how workplace dress codes affect employee performance. A quick Google search shows mixed results—articles debating the merits of both sides and ultimately coming to no real conclusion. This statistic, from the July 2010 Ipsos Global Advisory, is perhaps the most telling: 45 percent of workers think casual dress leads to increased productivity, while 55 percent believe business attire is more effective. That's a pretty even split.
Our proposition? Forget the stats. If you focus on providing the best possible office apparel—casual, business or business casual—everybody wins. Employees will be comfortable, employers will be happy, and you'll be swimming in sales. Read on for a peek at the office apparel trends to watch for in 2015.
We're not here to tell you that a freshly pressed-and-starched shirt doesn't look sharp. But as much as we'd like to dress like Don Draper every day, it's not exactly realistic. For one, more and more workplaces are moving toward relaxed dress codes. And for another, getting gussied up every day can be uncomfortable if you don't have a top-of-the-line suit.
Lately, the focus in office apparel has been more on performance. "We continue to see demand for technology and performance in fabrics and apparel," said Andrea L. Routzahn, vice president of portfolio and supplier management for alphabroder, Trevose, Pa. "Performance is a catch-all category that means different things to different people. What we see is continued demand for apparel that looks great, fits well, wears well and is durable/long-lasting, easy to launder and care for, and comfortable."
That's not to say appearance is an afterthought, though. If anything, new developments in fabrics and technology have made it possible to stay stylish without sacrificing comfort. "The key to today's apparel is to look fresh and clean all day long—easy-care, stain-resistant, wash-and-wear, crease-resistant," explained Eric J. Rubin, president of Blue Generation, Long Island City, N.Y. "This is all possible with advanced technology in textiles. Consumer preferences have moved towards poly/cotton blends and polyester moisture-wicking fabrics that are comfortable to wear."