Which Three States Have the Most-Formal Office Dress Codes?

Business Formal
Image Credit: michaeljung/Getty Images

For the past 400 years or so, particularly in the Western world, it’s fair to say no type of clothing has been more synonymous with money, power and business than the suit. Search for “business” images in any search engine, and odds are you’ll soon be scrolling through stock pictures of men and women in suit jackets, matching pants or skirts, and ties.

Depending on your profession, suits may be the norm at your place of work; in PayScale’s recent report, Style vs. Salary: Does Your Appearance Impact Your Career?, we found that more than 5 percent of workers in the United States wear “business formal” clothing to work; we defined “business formal” as a tie and jacket for men, and a pant- or skirt-suit for women. The most common industries within that 5 percent? Many of them are related to financial services: Portfolio Management, Commercial Banking, Investment Advice, etc.?

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The Three Most-Formal States

It makes sense, therefore, for New York—home of global financial hub New York City—to rank in the top-three for most “business formal” states in America. New York comes in number three overall, with almost 9 percent of respondents reporting they wear business formal clothing to work.

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The top two most formal states for work apparel? That distinction goes to Virginia and the District of Columbia, which come in number two (9 percent) and number one (16 percent!), respectively. This, too, makes sense, given the fact that both are home to various branches of government, many government agencies and services, and a large number of supporting businesses.

In general, respondents from Eastern states reported more formal dress codes at their places of work. But there’s one notable exception: Vermont. And, boy, is Vermont the exception. Zero percent of workers in the Green Mountain State reported wearing business formal clothing to their job.? (Vermont also comes in at number ten on our list of the states with the most casual office dress codes, the only Eastern state to make the top ten on that list.)


Suits Mean Money

But even if you’d rather not wear a suit to work, there may be good reason to work at a company with a business formal dress code. As reported in Style vs. Salary, the more formally you dress for work, the more money you’re likely to make.

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Our survey showed that workers of companies with a business formal dress code have the highest median salary of the groups in our report, at $57,800. We also discovered the higher the income bracket, the more likely those respondents work at a company with a formal dress code.

So, if you want to make the big bucks, the workweek suit might be in your future. Just don’t tell that to Mark Zuckerberg.


Tell Us What You Think

Does your company enforce a strict dress code, or are you able to look how you want to at work? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

?(Interestingly, the industry with the highest percentage of “business formal” respondents is “Funeral Homes and Funeral Services.”)

?Of 77 respondents from the state of Vermont, not one reported wearing business formal clothing to work.