Breaking News: Wall Street Goes Casual

Breaking News: Wall Street Goes Casual

It’s no surprise modern life often favors casual comfort over formality, and few industries have been left untouched by the global trend of dressing down. Rather than debate whether this is a good thing or not, (that’s a topic for another day,) I’m more interested in how we got here.

As workplaces around the world scrambled to adapt to a work from home (WFH) reality, it seems the first thing to go was the formality of getting dressed up for work, or even dressed for that matter. Seriously-a few weren’t even wearing pants on their Zoom conferences,  but I digress. The truth is, we’ve been heading down this casual comfort path for a while now, but it’s a trend that began long before the current pandemic and lockdown. 

A decade or two ago, few employees at major corporations could look forward to “Casual Fridays” and the opportunity to wear a favorite pair of jeans in the office. Now it’s so common, that pairing a blazer with jeans instead of the traditional suit and tie is all you see walking the downtown streets of major cities.

We need merely look at demographics to see what’s driving this transition to a more casual workplace. The generational shift to a younger workforce, the clientele and the overall culture have been moving towards a more relaxed approach for years. 
Back in 2017, financial giant Goldman Sachs loosened it’s dress code for its tech division in an attempt to attract top talent. And in early 2019 they announced a new “firm-wide flexible dress code” urging employees to use “good judgement” in their fashion choices. In a widely cited memo, the US bank said, “the changing nature of workplaces generally favor a more casual environment.” That being said, “Casual dress is not appropriate every day and for every interaction and we trust you will consistently exercise good judgement in this regard,” the memo read.
Other banks like JP Morgan have taken similar steps.
According to a BBC news article also from 2019, Goldman’s announcement was aimed at bringing the bank’s policies up to date for its younger workforce. A change in top leadership at the company recognized that more than 75% of Goldman employees are members of the Millennial or Gen Z generations - people born after 1981. 
It would appear “Casual Fridays,” as well as Casual Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are here to stay. What do you think? Let’s keep the conversation going. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.