You Are What You Wear – Does What You Wear Matter in Business Anymore?

I once had a job where I was told I had to wear a suit every day to the office, even if I wasn’t meeting any clients. At the time me and my colleagues used to discuss why the MD felt like this. Does wearing a suit really put you in the mind frame of ‘work’ over ‘free- time’? I never personally felt or still feel that what I wear makes a difference to my productivity at work. I do like to feel smart when having external meetings though. I can’t remember the last time I actually wore a suit – or met anyone that wears a tie nowadays.

Business has changed over the years. Many years ago formal was the only route for business, it was ‘business’ after all. The ‘Mad Men’ era of smart suits and tailored dresses and heels – all very well but uncomfortable for a full day’s work.

Then the 80s and 90s came and with the likes of Margret Thatcher in charge, power dressing became the thing that got you ahead in business.

But in 2013, is it still important to dress in power suits with ties and ridiculously painful shoe wear to get ahead?

In short, it is still important what you wear – but not necessarily how smart it is. People will always judge you on what you wear; your clothes give a perception of who you are. In some industries you can’t get away from the fact that you need to be in formal business attire. I am not sure that you would feel very comfortable having a lawyer represent you if they rocked up in board shorts and flip flops or if you went to meet the bank manager and they are in their polo shirt and shorts.

But, in industries such as media and especially in start-ups – suits and ties are a thing of the past. Presentable is the word I would now use to describe how people should dress in these industries. Smart jeans, pumps and a cotton top for example make appropriate attire for both men and women or linen trousers and a plain t-shirt.

What about when it comes to interviews? Is there a job interview dress code? In a nutshell, yes. It REALLY does matter what you wear to a job interview. When you are dressing for a job interview the image you present matters, even if you’re applying for a part-time job in a bar. Your image is what makes the first impression on the interviewer, so it’s important to dress appropriately. Regardless of the type of job you’re interested in, you want that first impression to be a great one.

So whether it is for a job interview or for the office, always remember, that people will judge you based on what you wear, so even if you have a casual dress code – keep it smart casual and maybe save the joggers and flip flops for when you’re at home.

What dress code does your office have? Do you think what you wear to the office has an impact on professionalism?