fb-pixelAs casual dress takes over Boston offices, could ‘Formal Thursday’ become a thing? - The Boston Globe Skip to main content
Top Places to Work

As casual dress takes over Boston offices, could ‘Formal Thursday’ become a thing?

Work attire is getting more casual. (Sweatpants, really?) But that doesn’t mean you can’t get dressed up once in a while.

Reveneer’s J.B. Simon sports a bowtie on Formal Thursday.Michelle Jay for the Boston Globe
Tahir Quee shows off his duck socks on a Formal Thursday at Reveneer in Woburn. Michelle Jay for the Boston Globe

At Wilmington-based insurance company Serur Agencies, employees actually look forward to Mondays. Maybe it’s because the company’s performance leader board gets updated.  But chief executive Albert Serur gives much of the credit to the absence of business attire.

At Serur, the workweek begins with Dress Down Monday, where employees dress as casually as they want. Team jerseys are highly encouraged, as are sweatpants. “We changed the culture of TGIF to TGIM,” Serur says. “We don’t want your job to feel like a job. Work doesn’t have to be miserable.”

The office, which is only a little less casual the rest of the week, is one of many workplaces embracing a more relaxed corporate dress code trend that has spread from Silicon Valley to even the most traditional white collar institutions, such as JPMorgan Chase, General Electric, and IBM. Embracing jeans and sandals reflects a more casual society, and also helps keep employees happy, local business leaders say.

At the Institution for Savings in Newburyport, employees have readily adopted business casual wear throughout the week. “It’s been a real hit,” says Mike Jones, the bank’s president and chief executive, who on this particular day sports a suit, but no tie — “ties are being ditched industrywide,” he says. The bank even gives workers up to five shirts, polos and button-downs, with the bank’s logo on them. “It’s a heck of a lot easier to get up in the morning and put a pair of jeans on and a polo shirt rather than a suit and tie and shining your shoes,” Jones says.


The bank still makes workers toe the line when it comes to shoes, however — sneakers are not allowed.

Sneakers are most definitely allowed at Cambridge-based CarGurus, an online automotive shopping and research company that has stayed true to its startup roots. Employees have noticed that many of them have the same relaxed aesthetic, which has led to a companywide “best dressed” e-mail chain that dates back to 2015 and features employees caught “twinning” — wearing similar or identical outfits. Company spokeswoman Shannon Todesca confesses to having made the list several times. She sits near someone who shares her sense of fashion. “On multiple occasions we came in wearing close to the same thing, and one time it was exactly the same thing,” says Todesca. “You can tell we work near the [CambridgeSide] Galleria mall and we all shop there.”


Mike Fitzpatrick, Kirk Israel, and Jasper Rosenberg of CarGurus wear matching clothing.CarGurus

The business formal dress code may be on its last legs, but some young workers are having fun with it. Employees at Woburn-based technology sales company Reveneer have created Formal Thursday, where everyone comes to work in full suits, including neckties or even bow ties. The day stands in sharp contrast to a dress code so relaxed it might as well be asleep. “It caught on like wildfire,” says Kara Brown, the firm’s marketing manager. “It’s always really fun to see how people come in that day; you never know what you’re going to get.”

But one day a week in suits is enough, especially for a workforce mostly in their 20s.

“This isn’t a dreary office,” she says. “When people close a deal, we [blow] an air horn . . . . We’re hiring new college grads; they’re our bread and butter. If you’re more formal, you’re forcing them to buy a new wardrobe.”


Formal Thursdays at Reveneer have a throwback vibe, as casual dress gives way to shirts and ties like those worn by Alec Matys (right) and John Klug. Michelle Jay for the Boston Globe

Katheleen Conti is a freelance writer and former Globe staffer. Send comments to magazine@globe.com. Get the best of the magazine’s award-winning stories and features right in your e-mail inbox every Sunday. Sign up here.