Men are 'thinking beyond the pinstripes' and are smarter dressers at work than women, according to a new survey.

Contrary to popular opinion, men spend time planning what to wear to the office, with one in six confessing to choosing clothes to impress female colleagues.

But the survey also revealed that a large proportion of men would not mind being allowed to wear something other than a suit and tie to work.

Legal eagles, solicitors and barristers, get the thumbs down in the survey for being the most unfashionable, followed by bankers and accountants and IT professionals.

The survey, carried out by Consumer Analysis Group for Austin Reed, discovered that 53 per cent of both sexes questioned thought men were the smartest dressers. And it also revealed that one in three men questioned still admit to sometimes wearing odd socks to work.

The survey looked at the views of 500 men and women in England, Scotland and Wales, and showed that nearly two thirds of men (63 per cent) were in favour of relaxing the dress code for men in offices.

Of the men surveyed, 37 per cent felt that relaxed, co-ordinated jackets and trousers are appropriate to wear to work, but only four per cent of men said they would feel comfortable wearing a t-shirt and only nine per cent would dare to appear in a sweatshirt.

Andrew Woodward, marketing director at Austin Reed said: "While the survey looks at some of the fun elements associated with dressing at work, it covers more serious issues too."

By Deborah Bowyer