by By Sarah J.F. Braley | July 01, 2009

0709SC suitsIn contrast with employment numbers, sales statistics for formal business wear have been quite healthy recently. Whereas business casual used to reign in the office and at business events, dressing to impress is officially back in style.

"We're definitely seeing a trend for dressing up in the work place," says Dean White, vice president of merchandising for Fleetwood, Pa.-based Paul Fredrick, which designs and sells men's fashion, such as the suits shown below. The company's sales of ties, for example, went from roughly 121,000 in 2006 to 171,000 in 2008; sales of white dress shirts jumped from 115,000 in 2006 to 204,000 in 2008.

New York City-based Jones Apparel Group, which sells women's brands such as AK Anne Klein, Jones New York and Le Suit, also reports strong sales in business attire. "Traditional is selling very well," president and CEO Wes Call said in an April earnings call. The economy, he added, which is nothing if not serious, has led consumers to favor more serious dress.

Job seekers clearly need to look sharp. Last year released a survey that showed 54 percent of 2,765 employer respondents gave greater weight to job candidates who wore suits.

The career website also has closet-stocking tips for the gainfully employed (, beginning with: "Every professional man or woman needs at least one traditional, well-tailored suit in a classic color." The site also quotes a wardrobe rule for those who want to further their careers: "Dress for the position you want, not the position you have."