Look at films and TV from 60 years ago and you will notice far more hats, three-piece suits and ties, no matter where the scene is set. Similarly, the invention of the microwave oven and soon after ‘ready meals’ fuelled a rise in much less formal eating, and nowadays in office culture we think nothing of calling senior staff by their first names. Now one only sees and hears traditional formalities very occasionally, perhaps at weddings or job interviews, but in general we are much more relaxed.
When it comes to dress, many commentators have pointed to the counterculture of the 1960s as the beginning of the decline of formality. In the UK, we have seen a slow shift from formal business wear to the more casual office cultures of the early 2000s, and the more recent growth of ‘athleisure’, a hybrid form of sportswear that you can wear more formally, a trend which has accelerated as part of the fallout from COVID-19.