Dressing down in denim at work is the new smart dress code

Natasha Legge | 10th July 2019

The trend set by Steve Jobs and Richard Branson in staff, managers and directors ditching shirts and ties in favour of more comfortable day-to-day attire is growing as just one in eight workplaces now enforce a smart dress code.


According to a new study half of workers now follow a casual or smart casual dress code at work, allowing for jeans and other dress-down styles.


It also emerged one in five consider the rules at their place of work to be ‘mostly smart’, making allowance for casual touches.


As a result three quarters believe workplace attire has become more casual across the board in the last decade.


It also emerged 12 per cent of those surveyed said management insist on a smart dress code, and 16 per cent said they are required to wear a specific uniform.


The findings were uncovered as part of a larger study into the prominence of denim in UK wardrobes, both at home and in the workplace.


A spokesperson for global fashion search platform Lyst, which commissioned the study to support their comprehensive assessment of denim in 2019 – The Denim Report – said: “As work hours have increased and the ‘always on’ culture has come to prominence thanks to developments in tech and connectivity, the lines between our work lives and our home lives have blurred.



“This meeting of worlds is reflected in our expected work dress codes.


“Work is no longer siloed off from the rest of our lives, and therefore it is right that the rules around dress codes in the workplace have become more relaxed.


“Jeans are synonymous with style, practicality and comfort, and have successfully bridged this gap between casual wear and workwear.”


It also emerged 75 per cent of adults surveyed believe their jeans are a key component of their style, with the average person owning five pairs – three of which they regularly wear.


And one in seven live in their denim every day.


Such a popular item of clothing requires regular washing, with the average ‘favourite’ pair of jeans seeing the wash 20 times a year, or once every 18 days.


But one in 10 adults admit their go-to jeans will only see the wash once a year.


Despite their position as an indispensable item of clothing, only half of those surveyed believe they have ever owned a pair of jeans which was ‘perfect’ for them with regards to fit, style and wash.


The ‘perfect’ jeans have a straight leg, a light wash finish, and cost £41, according to denim-clad Brits.


The most popular fit for jeans among Brits is the straight leg look, with over a third opting for the classic style.


Three in 10 prefer a slim leg profile in their jeans, and 23 per cent take the silhouette even closer with skinny-fit jeans.



Joey Essex - the new face of Washdent

Other popular fits include the bootcut look, which resonated with one in four Brits, and high-rise jeans, which were the preferred style for one in 10 shoppers.


The research also explored the extent to which denim has infiltrated our wardrobes beyond jeans ownership.


The most popular denim product after jeans is the denim jacket, which hangs in three in 10 wardrobes across the country.


One in five Brits own a denim shirt, and 16 per cent have a denim skirt in their clothes drawer.


A spokesperson for global fashion search platform Lyst, which commissioned the study to support the Denim Report – added: “Jeans have become so indispensable an item that millions of Brits are wearing a pair every day of the week, at work and at home.


“That’s why we thought it would be fascinating to take a deep look into denim trends, culture and significance in 2019, using global fashion search data and consumer opinion to build a comprehensive assessment of denim today.”




1. James Dean – Levi blue jeans
2. Daisy Duke in her ‘Daisy Dukes’ – Dukes of Hazzard
3. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA album cover
4. Elvis – Denim style
5. Princess Diana – Denim overalls
6. Britney & Justin – Denim Date at 2001 American Music Awards
7. Kate Moss & Mark Wahlberg – Calvin Klein ad
8. Cindy Crawford – Denim shorts
9. Farrah Fawcett – Flairs style
10. Pamela Anderson – Double denim