Are you required to dress up at work in your own countries?
One of the aspects that I have always loved of London is the flexibility in terms of office clothing. I mean, I have usually needed to ´look the part´ at the office before I arrived to London, which involved wearing suits and other formal, boring office wear.
Once in London, I discovered quite soon that it was quite different here most of the times. Front line staff members tend to wear what looks like boring uniforms sometimes. For example, bank staff. Office staff usually wear, get ready for this, jeans and a t-shirt! This can depend on sectors. Bankers and the like seem to be required to wear those boring suits, as opposed to media and most other sectors, etc. In fact, the City is mostly inhabited by men and women wearing uniforms. Never tourists did stand out so badly!
Obviously, that does not happen when there are external meetings. I have often thought that it could be a bit of a contradiction. Relaxed office environment, relaxed appearance that suddenly becomes formal, as if the external people were going to think that we are not professional enough. Both parts might think exactly the same though. ´Let´s dress up´ just in case´…
There is this employment agency where a note at reception warned that their attitude on (dress-down) Fridays are as professional as other days of the week. I wouldn´t expect otherwise! Would you?
Appearances do count then, as the huge office wear in shops such as Next and other shops can tell. I´ve read somewhere that the appearance of office staff has actually become more conservative as of late, with the economic meltdown still looming.
Still, I have seen boring office wear in London´s shops – with a twist! A wonderfully weird combination of tradition and modern times. It sadly is not the norm, though.