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Dress for success?

Why is it that we're so obsessed with "dressing to impress"? I've gone through numerous reasons in my head countless times, and none of them hold up to scrutiny of any kind. Below are some things that I've heard, read, or thought of when trying to rationalize this ridiculous idea of dress codes:
  1. "It presents a professional image to our clients." -- If your clients aren't impressed with your track record, then it's time to re-evaluate your performance. If your performance is sound, and proven, then maybe it's time to decide if this client is worth dressing up for. The client probably is worth it, but if he/she values your services enough, should it matter how you look? Nope.
  2. "It fosters a professional work environment." -- Bullshit. I work for a company where we are required to dress "business casual". Not a day goes by when an expletive is not uttered by one of the members of senior management, in earshot of everyone else in the office. Sort of blows the professional work environment idea right out of the water, doesn't it?
  3. "We are the public face of the company, it's important to present a good image." -- Meanwhile, back at headquarters, employees are disgruntled, underpaid, overworked, and your company is headed for bankruptcy. But, by golly, you look great when you're out to lunch with coworkers wearing a dress shirt and tie!
  4. "In order to be taken seriously, you need to dress like you mean business." -- I take my work very seriously, probably more so than most who come to work dressed flashy, and I've earned the respect of my co-workers. I don't dress up. In fact, I get away with as much as I can without actually violating the corporate dress code. If someone passes me up because of my appearance, that really is their flaw, not mine.

Notice how -- at least in my twisted world -- none of these common reasons justify the need for dress codes. Maybe instead of an "appearance-first" society, it's time for us to think about becoming a "character-first" society. I'm sure you can come up with other justifications that you've heard or thought of. I've just listed a few of the most common ones here.

I may sound overly idealistic, even a bit naive here, but I really do think we are a county who puts too much value on appearance. If you're a supervisor, relax your departmental dress code a little; you'll see happier, more upbeat employees. I'm not a supervisor, but I've seen this first hand. If you're an employee forced to dress up a certain way every day, get away with as much as you can without actually violating dress code guidelines. Start a revolution! Maybe before you know it, you'll have a casual dress code. Oh, if you do this and get fired, I accept no responsibility!


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