How Have Events Affected Business Attire Over the Last Decade?

Yes, 2013 was a decade ago. When men’s fashion was focusing on hipster styles, graphic t-shirts with a blazer over the top, and man buns. Since then, things have started to be more casual – bright coloured trainers and simple streetwear becoming more popular by the day. But how has the rollercoaster of fashion over the past ten years affected the office wardrobe?

Business attire has dramatically decreased in formalness over the last ten years, and the classic suit and tie seems to be disappearing from offices all over the world. As the years flew by, effort and motivation started to fall away from fashion in the workplace. With offices becoming more casual and laid back, the business attire of office workers and business professionals did the same. It began with the open collar, tieless shirts, which then evolved into rolled up sleeves and no blazer. The shirts turned into jumpers and then t-shirts, and the suit trousers turned into jeans. The timeless and traditional use of the business suit started to become a thing of the past as comfort became the number one goal.

An obvious example of fashion whiplash was the global pandemic. Covid-19 was a life changing period of our home and work lives, and as office work became working from home, business attire became sweatpants and a button-down shirt to prepare for zoom meetings where only your top half was visible. It was a huge adjustment when restrictions were lifted and office workers made their way back into the world, and smart attire was hard to slip back into. An article in The Guardian even claimed that it was ‘the end of the suit’, which is a heart breaking thought for the suit loving professional man. According to BBC, the US suit market shrunk by  8% between 2015 and 2019, and 2020 only sped up the decline in sales.

Articles from 2015 sold smart-casual trends to readers, claiming that it was admired by many and that wearing a full suit to the office made you seem like you were ‘trying too hard’. Business-casual was the perfect mixture for events during the year. Advice on how to achieve the ‘perfect balance’ between formal and casual was popular in a lot of men’s magazine articles over the past decade.

It’s not to say that everyone stopped wearing formal attire all together – there are obvious examples why that isn’t the case. GQ’s men of the year awards in 2016 showcased some of the best dressed male celebrities on their red carpet – particularly Chris Pine in his white tuxedo jacket and black bow tie, where he won the award for international man of the year (well deserved just for that immaculate choice of Hugo Boss suit).

In 2023, the goal would be for us all to say that men’s business suits and formal workwear are back with vengeance, and men have taken the opportunity to fill their wardrobes with smart, flattering and eye-catching suits to show up to the office in style.