Where Have the Suits Gone?

by | Nov 13, 2023

We believe business should be friendlier, and that you don’t need to wear a suit to mean business. And the longer we are in business, the more we’re seeing change in the same direction. We’re seeing less suits and a friendlier way of working. In the not-so-distant past, the corporate world was often synonymous with suits, ties, and a very formal framework of what was and wasn’t ‘professional’. (Professional in this case meaning Good and acceptable.) From boardrooms to business meetings, the attire and atmosphere exuded this version of professionalism and was generally pretty intimidating to most people. Especially those whose experience, income, style, or ethos didn’t look ‘the right way’. There is no denying that this safety blanket of ‘professional’ which corporate wrapped itself in, created exclusions and inequality. However, as we say, in recent years a noticeable shift has occurred and it’s transforming the landscape of business

If you go along to a networking event now you might see signs that the culture of business today is decidedly more approachable, diverse, and accommodating than those 80’s inspired power suits we remember. But what’s happened to create this shift? Why is the face of business so much friendlier and more inclusive?

Is business really friendlier?

Dress for the job you want! We’ve all heard that one right? Well one of the most visible changes in the business world is the decline of strict dress codes. In the past, wearing a suit and tie was the norm, but today, many companies are adopting more relaxed dress codes. Recognising that people work better when they’re comfortable. The rise of tech startups and the influence of companies like Google, known for their casual dress culture, have played a significant role in this shift. Employees are given more freedom to wear what makes them comfortable, allowing for self-expression and a more relaxed work environment. We know it’s not everywhere and it’s not perfect but there’s definitely improvement. And when you’re working for yourself, this loosening of preconceptions means you can tell more of a story about who you are when meeting with clients… and authenticity is always going to build the best kind of relationships!

Try a different lens. Businesses have also made great strides in embracing diversity and inclusion. In the past, corporate leadership positions were often dominated by the stereotypical white, middle aged men in suits. But today, there is growing recognition of the importance of diverse perspectives to create successful teams and strategies. Companies are actively seeking to diversify their workforce and leadership teams, bringing in different viewpoints and approaches to create a more inclusive atmosphere. These different perspectives bring with them different ways of acting, dressing and approaching the world. Suits are still welcome, they just aren’t the ONLY way now. 

Get off the treadmill. The traditional view of business told us that long hours and relentless dedication were the only way to succeed at life. (we have no idea why they also felt the need to dress in the least comfortable outfit ever whilst doing it.) We’re very pleased to see a shift in that as the business world increasingly recognizes the importance of balance in our lives. Many companies are offering flexible working arrangements and paid time off to ensure that employees can maintain a healthy equilibrium between their professional and personal lives. Also, just to reassure you that no one minds if your cat shows up on a zoom call or there’s a dirty coffee cup in the background.

We CAN handle the truth thanks. In the past, business interactions could sometimes feel scripted and insincere. In fact if you ever worked in marketing or customer service you’ll know it was literally scripted! Today, authenticity is king, even the most corporate, inauthentic businesses are trying to fake it. Customers and clients are people like us so we know they appreciate genuine connections and transparency. In this new reality, you’re more likely to be praised for saying you don’t know something than punished. Vulnerability, emotional intelligence, and the willingness to learn are key skills looked for during recruitment.

Who said that!? Another fantastic switch is that we’re slowly waving goodbye to the old hierarchical structures. In many places they have given way to more collaborative and innovative approaches, inviting ideas and challenges from across departments and even wider. The result is a more dynamic business environment that can respond to change and challenges more effectively. 


While we recognise that the traditional image of suits and formal meetings still has its place. We for one are very pleased that it’s no longer the defining characteristic of how business happens. As we move forward we think that the emphasis on diversity, authenticity, and balance will continue to shape the way we do business into a friendlier, less stuffy place. And hopefully corporates will start to see what we social enterprises have known all along. That the future of business is not just about profits; it’s about people, relationships, and a culture that values individuals and their unique contributions.