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We clarify how contemporary a dress code still is and how it affects the dynamics in the team.

Mandatory suits in start-ups or slipper guidelines in large corporations. Whether at all, and if so, which dress codes are conducive to corporate culture in Germany? What are the influencing factors or which aspects should be taken into account when implementing them in your own organisation? We clarify and give our recommendation to further promote your corporate culture.

Workwear as a marketing tool

The “corporate identity” of a company consists of a wide variety of characteristics that make up the brand DNA: Colours, tones, norms and behavioural patterns or even work clothes. The corporate identity serves as a strategic construct to represent the unity of the company externally and to create a corporate culture internally. A unified style of dress literally demonstrates the “we-feeling”: the distinction from people outside the company becomes visually clear and a visual bond to the brand is created.


Dress code for more performance

People in suits are more dominant, people in bikinis less efficient. This was the conclusion reached by the University of Michigan in the experiment “That swimsuit becomes you: sex differences in self-objectification, restrained eating, and math performance”. So our choice of clothing influences our performance as well as our appearance.  In addition, aspects such as the colour of the garment have an effect on the hormone balance in one’s own body and thus on performance and interaction within the team. An experiment at Yale University also found that wearing a doctor’s coat also has a positive effect on success in a task, even if the test person was not a medical doctor. The effect of “social priming” thus influences our perception in which we associate success and failure with certain items of clothing. Work clothing is not a matter of individual corporate choice – it is the result of social conditioning and norms.


Suit compulsion leads to an own goal and why adilettes can become the uniform of your company

The example of company S makes it clear how one can shoot oneself in the foot with the topic of dress code: A long-established large technology company S has a mandatory suit dress code. At trade fairs, the employees of this company all wear suits in a similar shade of blue. At the stand, the team looks very uniform, smart and competent. The other trade fair stands nearby are provided by innovative, young start-ups: here everyone wears sneakers and hoodies. In this environment, the men in their blue suits look out of place and out of time. They do not really embody what a technology company would like to represent. A classic case of “own goal”.

So it also depends on the environment in which you operate as a company. But is there such a thing as “too casual”? 9 out of 10 Germans draw the line at wearing flip-flops in the office. However, we think that Adiletten can be a real icebreaker for your team, create closeness between employees and superiors and are a grateful gift for your feet on hot summer days in the office without air conditioning.


Cosy Germany

What is the situation in our society in Germany? Uniforms from German schools are hardly known in this country. And employees also tend to wear casual clothes in their daily work – a high rate in a global comparison: more than one in two in Germany wears casual clothes at work. This puts Germany, together with Argentina, in third place worldwide. With regard to the connection between clothing and chances of promotion, the clear majority of Germans think that even in a “casual” style of dress the doors to upper management are not barred.


Contributing to the corporate culture with a dress code is less likely to work in Germany. So you need other elements to feed and nurture your corporate culture. For example, joint excursions and training events for employees can strengthen the bonds between colleagues and promote your corporate culture. Discover activities that bring you together as a team here:

Fabian Zorn | Marketing student at GREWP