Does Your Work Attire Really Make a Difference?

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  • Interesting bit from where I've worked.

    My first real job was in the video game industry. I was told NOT TO WEAR a suit to my interview. I wore one anyway. The two people interviewing me for a small QA role (part-time) was the QA Manager and the DBA (Oracle baby). The DBA was the oldest one in the room and he actually commented on how there was finally someone taking this opportunity seriously. I got the job the next day. The environment from that point on was extremely casual. I wore flip flops for like 2 years.

    Fast forward like 8 years, I'm working in a marketing agency. Things are a lot different because we have clients that can stop by. In that sense, it makes sense to dress professional no matter what team you work on. I think that makes a lot of sense due to the nature of the business. In my humble opinion, I think dressing professional in certain environments does have a positive impact because not only should you be professional with your co-workers, but also for your clients.

    Though, I will admit, that is starting to change to more business casual among many organizations.

  • I believe any person with self respect will make an effort with the way they look before they leave the house. You can wear shorts and a tee-shirt and still look decent. Does suit and tie make me feel more professional? I don't know because I have never worn them in my 38 years of working. I have mostly worn nice jeans and shirt/tee-shirt but I believe I can still look and be professional. In my current work I was told I can wear shorts but to keep a decent set of clothes handy for when I work with clients. I DO NOT like ties. :ermm::ermm::ermm::ermm:

    :-PManie Verster
    South Africa

    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Holy Bible
    I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times. - Everett Mckinley Dirkson (Well, I am trying. - Manie Verster)

  • I have another friend in consulting that has to dress up, and he feels strongly that it helps create a more professional environment. I guess that does make sense in consulting. How disrespectful would it be for a consultant to show up all disheveled to a meeting with their customer?


    Share what you get to wear at your workplace. Do you think dressing in nicer attire would positively affect your work environment?

    Suited and booted

  • To start off with, I don't think that work attire really makes a difference. If you're competent and confident, it tends to come across. If you are someone who has mastered their field, this comes to be known.

    On a second note, our company has a very relaxed dress-code. I started donning a suit about a month ago. I got lots of praise from the women at work and horrified questions from closer colleagues as to whether I was going to interviews. The idea that I would voluntarily wear a suit to work seemed to them strange. However, the office is hot (23-25C) and the suit is light. It looks well too. I am now the only DBA not wearing jeans and t-shirt. A relaxed dress-code is the freedom not to wear the uniform.

  • Before I started work in IT I was a postman, what Americans call a mailman (Yes, they were virtually all men then). Originally we were officially called Postal Delivery Officers and we had a uniform to match the title including a uniform jacket and peaked cap. We were representing the Queen after all. The thing is people treated us with respect and dignity and you felt good about the public service you were performing. You took pride in your responsibility of delivering the Queen's mail accordingly.
    Over the years the dress code relaxed. No more ties, jackets and peak caps. People treated us less respectfully. The dress code has relaxed even further since I left that career. Now I see postmen in shorts and polo shirts. They certainly do not command respect from the public. People no longer view postman as a desirable occupation to be in.
    The point I am making is that rightly or wrongly people make judgements about others based on what they wear. There's an unconscious bias towards persons that are professionally dressed to those that are casually dressed. People assume that professional dress = professional work and casual dress = casual work. The question is should we play up to unconscious bias of others or not?

  • One of the best courses I ever went on was a presentation skills course run by an ex-BBC presenter.  The trainer devoted a couple of hours to psychology and body language.

    When you present you have to show that you are in control and are the figure of authority in the room but at the same time not alienate your audience.  If you dressed in a 3 piece suit to talk at a Java developer conference you'd pretty much alienate your audience before even opening your mouth.
    The guidance was to dress slightly better than the people over whom you have authority.

    Personally I think you have to dress for the people with whom you have to communicate.  If you have to present bad news up the management tree then you want them focused on the message you have to give not on your tee-shirt, or God forbid the jeans hanging below the crevice of your backside.

  • We used to have to wear business dress, a tie wasn't compulsory but the boss made his feelings know if you didn't wear one, this is in an all male office by the way.  At the start of this year they renovated the office and for six weeks we had various decorators, joiners and other tradesmen in and out and the place was essentially a tidy building site.  The Powers-That-Be said we could dress down for the duration of the work, no shorts and flip-flops and if you went to the customer's site you had to be smart but otherwise jeans and t-shirts were ok.  About five weeks in, somebody not a million miles away pointed out that because we hadn't descended completely into anarchy while we were dressed down and because we weren't customer facing, was there any need to return to business dress.  My boss replied that this had already been noticed by his boss, also in our building, and it was under consideration.  The principal argument against was that other members of the team were compelled to wear business dress because they were at the customer's site and it wasn't fair on them.  The counter-argument to this was that the customer's site was a much nicer place to work regardless of the very expensive refurb we'd just had and wearing business dress was a small price to pay for this.

    To cut a long story short, we have stayed on dress-down and it doesn't seem to have had any ill effects.  If I need to go to the customer I try and arrange meetings for Fridays when they are dress-down and there is an understanding on both sides that if we're called there at same day notice we'll be dressed down.  I think in six months I've been over there once because the only way I could explain why something was wrong was to show somebody on a piece of paper.  I was there for ten minutes and I wasn't going to iron a shirt for that!

    On two occasions I have been asked, "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
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  • This is a good one - should how you dress make a difference? It shouldn't. but it seems to.

    Consciously dressing to match or not match expectations of your colleagues and your customers is a good idea. When I started working for IBM I wore a blue pin-striped suit and a white shirt. It was the uniform! πŸ˜‰ 

    A slightly tangential point is that _changing_ what you wear when you go to work and when you leave work really can make a difference. I usually work from home now. I still have the little rituals about what I wear and do when I go to work and when I leave (I don't wear a blue pin-striped suit at home! ;-)). It helps me establish and control the boundaries between my work-life and home-life.

    Tom Gillies LinkedIn[/url]

  • I tried to be my self and weared that what felt comfortable to me. My co workers weared business dresses inside and outside the company.
    I thought that a 100$ jeans and shoes should be okay.
    In this time it doesnt matter if i had customer contacts or not.

    My thinking was that deep inside the IT departement clients do not cross my ways and for my co workers i do not wear clothes they like.

  • I do think you should dress to some extent at the level of your peers or for where you want to be.

    That said I'm a very hot person generally and have never worn a long sleeved shirt to work even in the depths of winter. Personally I wear smart tailored shorts through the summer and trousers in the winter, with a smartish ironed short sleeved shirt. Some of our head office types do wear ties, but for our particular sector literally none of our customers wear ties so none of us do either (MD down).

  • I was told many years ago that is far better to be overdressed than underdressed.
    This goes for any scenario whether business or social.

    I will always turn up somewhere in a suit and tie, it is very easy to remove the tie and loosen the top button of my shirt if appropriate.

    Ask yourself whether you would rather be the only person in the room wearing a tie, or the only person in the room wearing a T-shirt.

  • The benefits of being well dressed are numerable, and fairly easy to acquire for only a modest initial outlay. How you are dressed affects the way that other people react to you, and in turn how you react to them.  Think about the way you react to people based on how they are dressed, be honest, you don't "treat everyone the same, no matter how they are dressed" even if you say you do.  It also subconsciously affects your posture, it may take a couple of months to feel comfortable in a suit, but when you do you will find that you hold yourself differently; the fit of a well cut suit will be more comfortable with good posture.  This makes you feel more confident, and influence peoples opinion of you more positively leading to you being offered more interesting or lucrative positions, if you wish to apply for them.  Above all being well dressed is a form of good manners, you are making an effort not to offend in any visual way, but to dress in a manner that is pleasing, or at the least inoffensive, to others.

    I for one prefer a dark three-piece suit, shirt with french cuffs, and a tie.  I am regularly the best dressed person in the room, if not the company, our MD doesn't even wear a tie.  There is ample room for personalising you appearance with cuff links, ties, pins and watch fobs, as well as rings and other small accessories to please most people.

  • There's a reason they're called monkey suits.

    Although the language is dressed up PC-speak ("professional appearance") the truth behind "dress to impress" is purely and simply boasting. "Look at me, I'm rich, I'm powerful, fear me".

    Bleh. If anything, a suit makes me instantly suspicious or at best neutral, i.e. I ignore the suit and listen to the person.

    When I started my current position my contract specificially stated "no tie, no travel". πŸ™‚ Jeans in good condition, a company-supplied polo shirt  everyday, and we do have customers come through. Since I'm the IT department I generally am introduced to them, and our dress code has never been a problem.

    Customers wear the gamut from three piece suits to khakis and polos. Only to be expected from banking types...

    Thankfully the old standards of suit and tie are *finally* dying. In my opinion it's long past due!

  • Ive worked in both environments for lengthy periods of time, business dress required (dress pants, dress shirt, tie) and casual permitted (nice jeans, appropriate shirt).  Personally, if I am not comfortable, I am distracted by not being comfortable and therefore not doing as good of work as I can be.  I understand the need to look "professional" for the position you are in....and being in a non-client facing position, my preference is nice jeans and a nice shirt (button-up, polo, or sweater in the winter).  As much as Id like to wear shorts and t-shirts, that's a bit too casual for work and seems like it could quickly lead to issues of "appropriateness".  Beyond dress code, my work ethic and output is professional and speaks for itself.

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