Casual Work Attire Is the Norm for U.S. Workers

Story Highlights

  • 41% of workers in U.S. wear business casual, 31% street clothes, 23% uniforms
  • 51% of women wear business casual, 30% street clothes, 14% uniforms
  • Men evenly divided among business casual, street clothes, uniforms

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The vast majority of U.S. workers wear casual clothes on the job most days, with more than seven in 10 saying their typical workplace attire is business casual (41%) or more dressed-down, casual street clothes (31%). Another 23% of workers say they wear a uniform at work most days, while just 3% say wearing business professional clothes is their norm.

A slim majority of women, 51%, say they wear business casual clothing such as blouses, dress pants, dressy jeans or skirts most days, while 30% don casual street clothing such as casual jeans, T-shirts or leggings. Fewer women typically go to work in a uniform (14%) or business professional clothing such as suits or suit separates (3%).

Men are more divided than women in their work wardrobe, with roughly one-third each saying they wear business casual attire like a shirt and slacks, casual street clothes, or a uniform. Just 3% of men report they regularly wear a suit to work.

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These findings are from an Aug. 1-23 poll, which marks the fifth time Gallup has asked American workers who are not self-employed how they usually dress for work. Since 2002, when the question was first asked, the percentages of workers overall who wear a uniform or casual street clothes have been relatively stable. The greatest fluctuations have been in the percentages of workers wearing business professional and business casual clothing. The 41% who now wear business casual attire is similar to the 43% recorded in 2007 but higher than in other years, while the 3% of workers who wear a suit or equivalent to work is the lowest Gallup has measured.

This question was last asked in October 2019, several months before the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the U.S. and resulted in an increase in remote work. Compared with 2019, American workers’ workplace attire is significantly more casual today, with a seven-percentage-point increase in the share who wear business casual clothes and four-point declines in uniforms and business professional wear. At the same time, the percentage of workers wearing casual street clothes today is unchanged from 2019.

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These shifts in workplace attire may be largely attributed to habits that began during pandemic lockdowns when many workers shifted to telecommuting. U.S. workers who have ever telecommuted for their job are more than twice as likely as those who have not to report wearing business casual clothing for work (58% vs. 24%, respectively). However, those who have telecommuted are less likely than their non-telecommuting counterparts to say they wear casual street clothes, 25% to 37%. Non-telecommuters are more likely to wear a uniform (35%) than those who have worked from home (11%).

Bottom Line

The biggest distinction in work attire today is not between those dressed up versus dressed casually, but rather in the degrees of casual dress. For most workers, and particularly women, the choice is between business casual and street casual.

While the COVID-19 pandemic may have resulted in a shift toward more casual work attire, it is notable that there has been no change in the percentage of workers who wear the most casual clothes, such as jeans or shorts, to work. Rather, business casual has gained at the expense of professional clothing (typically suits), which are now a rarity, as well as uniforms, which have also become slightly less common.

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