Has the pin-stripe had its day? The word from Royal & SunAlliance (RSA) and Axa Sun Life would indicate that a wardrobe revolution could be as much a feature of the new century as e-commerce.

The weekly "dress down" day on Friday at RSA looks set to be extended to other days of the week in some departments, making the largest general insurer literally the trend-setter for the industry.

Dress down days are now standard across the sector as it strives to create a more informal working environment and cultivate a less stuffy image for itself.

Even Friday visitors to RSA are warned in advance that employees may be "comfortable but smart" to avoid embarrassment. The life operation of Axa has already taken the plunge. From the start of the year staff have been given the all-clear to adopt a "casual but smart" look.

CGU currently adheres to a Friday code in most offices. "The overwhelming reason is that it allows people to start their weekend on Friday evening and go out after work," commented a spokesman.

Former Guardian staff have a dress down day once a month but the trend has yet to spread from offices at Blackpool and Ipswich to other parts of the Axa group.

Norwich Union's staff have yet to be seen in mufti; there is no dress down code, though staff do organise casual days on an ad hoc basis.