In the last few years employees have been wearing their couch potato clothing to work and companies have about had enough.

Anne Sowden, President and Image Consultant for Here’s Looking at You in Toronto, is very busy these days helping companies convert their employees back to more formal business wear. It turns out that business casual is dead or dying. (Apologies to all those who voted in the Workopolis poll that flip flops and shorts were acceptable office wear.)

Casual work wear became popular, Anne shared, with the growth of the Information Technology sector. However, with IT businesses losing their some of their prominence (and novelty), and people not wanting to relate to a sector that isn’t performing as well as it once did, corporations are returning to ‘the suit.’ Even IT companies want to improve their bad rap clothing image, so many of them are upgrading their standards of dress. Shirts with collars and nothing written on the front, khakis, cords and wool flannel pants are replacing the sloppy shorts, jeans and t-shirts look. Women are encouraged to wear jackets/ wraps or sweaters over bare arms and skirts to mid thigh. Dress pants are widely acceptable and appropriate with an attractive sweater or blouse.

A work wear survey conducted in the U.S. says that employees in business casual are less productive and their approach to their job is as seriously as it should be. The study showed an increase in late arrivals and absenteeism with the introduction of casual wear.

Simply put: when people wear to work what they lounge around in at home, their work attitude is one of lazing and grazing, rather than pounding and producing.

How you dress reflects your attitude about the job you do, Anne laments. The better you look and dress, the higher your self confidence; dressing up for business meetings shows respect for other people as well.

The same premise holds true for dressing for job interviews. If you think a suit is over the top opt for dress pants or slacks with a blazer or jacket. There is a uniform for job interviews no matter what level or title of position one is interviewing for.

I’ve always said, “To look worthy of a promotion you have to look promotable.” The philosophy is to dress one level up from what is expected attire in your position so you look like you could represent the next level on the organizational chart if you are promoted.

What do you think? Is business casual on its way out?

Colleen Clarke

Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer

author of “Networking How To Build Relationships That Count”