Lose the Tie?
Hey guys, we understand wanting to dress more casually and comfortable at work – (there’s no reason dressing well can’t be comfortable, but that’s for a different day). Today though, we want to talk about how – and when - business and casual clothing can intersect without a major collision. It seems many men work long hours preparing for presentations and meetings, yet it looks like appearance was last on their list. The truth of the matter is, clothes do affect how we work and act — and just as important is the interpretation of what those clothes mean to those around you. There is a reason they say to dress for the job you want not the one you have. To get a clearer picture of what is and is not appropriate for the office, we are going to talk about workplace style but first, let us diverge for a moment to touch on the concept of a uniform… it will all make sense in a minute.
Throughout history, uniforms have served an impactful and clear purpose. The function of the uniform, culturally speaking, is to set aside a particular group of people from the larger whole, a subset if you will, and to have clearly defined statuses within that group. The uniform can give our interactions, activities and aspirations further meaning. Couple examples … If the New York Yankees took the field, with each player wearing whatever they wanted to wear, though they would be able to technically play ball, would you even feel like you’re at the game? If your favorite player dressed in his “civilians”, how confident would you be in their ability to knock it out of the field? I’m not saying that the uniform makes the player, but no one can deny that the player out of uniform doesn’t command the same respect and certainly not the same level of gravitas.
Another example came to me the other day as I was boarding a flight down to Atlanta. I confidently took my seat after passing the pilot who was dressed in full regalia. If the pilot decided to wear walking shorts and a golf shirt, would I, would you, be wary of his ability to fly the plane? Obviously, we know those shorts and shirt do not make him any less of a pilot, yet we absolutely know how true the visuals play out. There is something about seeing a pilot’s badges and epaulets that acts as a balm for nerves when settling in for a flight. What does this have to do with dressing for the office? Well, it all goes back to one simple fact; you can lose a lot of ammunition by not dressing the part.
The business world is a fast paced, mission driven environment and the people who work in it must have an awareness of how they are presenting themselves. Far too often, men have mistaken dressing casual with dressing for recess. In a world where people’s attention span has been cut down to microseconds, looking like you don’t care could prove disastrous. Regardless of your business acumen, you are probably not going to own the boardroom with the same confidence and authority if you are wearing something like a pair of jeans. We’re not saying every occasion calls for a suit and tie; for sure not. BUT… if you’ve got jeans and a polo dueling with blazer and slacks, unless you’re playing croquet, our money is on the blazer.
For your next presentation, give it a try. You’ll probably notice that you hold your head a bit higher assured in the knowledge that you are speaking softly but carrying a big stick by looking the part. The point being, clothing doesn’t make the man, but it sure as hell helps others to identify WHO IS the man in charge.