Dressing to create the right impression with clients, prospects and colleagues is one area where individuals can influence the outcome of the economy, according to 94% of respondents UK work wear provider Alexandra.
Employees representing 20 business sectors were asked questions set by a team of psychologists with the outcome proving that casual no longer 'cuts it' in work-related relationship building with many businesses returning to conventional business suits and ties, uniforms and work wear.
The underlying theme of the study suggests the culture of 'dress down' suited the more 'secure' early 'noughties' but looking and working smarter is the 'attire of adversity' with almost half (46%) of responses saying that a more 'uniform' approach will help them win new business and increase sales in difficult times.
More than 90% argued what a person is wearing determines how professional and trustworthy they look, while almost 40% said 'scruffy clothing' in the work environment impacted performance.
Research using photographic comparisons reveals 96% chose the model wearing the smart work wear over the casual dress as a signal of 'trustworthiness' and 'professionalism'.
Unemployment is currently running at 2.57 million - one million of whom are under 21, the highest figures since 1984 and likely to get worse during the economic downturn. There are now 50,000 fewer construction jobs than this time last year and manufacturing faces an uncertain future despite last week's unexpected rise in GDP of 0.5% - a figure that does not factor in Eurozone turmoil. The Government's austerity measures have further impacted the public sector with the loss of 100,000 jobs including education and policing in the last 12 months.
Nick Acaster, marketing director of Alexandra workwear, said: "Austerity is now manifesting itself in our attitude to work and what we expect from our workers in terms of what they look like and how they feel about themselves and their long-term job security.
"First impressions have always mattered, but they seem to matter more in these difficult economic times. The way we dress is a significant trigger to how we may perform and how we are perceived in terms of professionalism and trustworthiness. Those who look and feel 'the business' are more likely to perform well and be more attractive to prospective customers."