The New York Times has an essay about young doctors dressing inappropriately, showing too much skin, wearing casual clothes and in general, not wearing traditional professional doctor attire. When Young Doctors Strut Too Much of Their Stuff – New York Times. They sited studies that showed that doctors wearing a suit and white lab coat made patients more confident and more likely to confide in their doctors.
I’d argue that this is a problem that is not unique to doctors. Walking down the street, I see a lot more skin on young people than I think I used to. (Or am I just getting old?) And I see young people at work in the computer industry wearing shirts that show their midriff or sandals that show their toes. I’m taking massage classes at a professional massage school and the younger students are constantly challenging the dress code. Personally, I have a hard time understanding why they aren’t willing to wear shirts that cover their tummies (doesn’t massage have a dicey enough reputation without adding to it?) but I can’t argue that they are just dressing the way the rest of their cohort does.
So is our idea of professional attire outdated? Will the new generation change that definition? Or will they eventually conform with our norms and start covering up some more skin and wearing suits or business casual or whatever is appropriate for their profession?
Personally, if you told me I’d be more successful dressing a different way because my clients, patients, or customers would trust me more and confide in me, I’d change the way I dressed. Would you?