Why I wear suits

July 27th, 2010 in Business, Career, PlanetGNOME

Photo by thinkpanama http://www.flickr.com/photos/23065375@N05/2247354856/

I’ve struggled with business dress for a long time. It’s inconvenient (requires ironing), complicated (business casual dinner for a woman?) and it’s often uncomfortable (why don’t women’s suits have pockets??)  It’s even harder now that I work with people that are more likely to show up naked than show up in a suit.

I don’t care what people wear, and I’d much rather be wearing sweat pants, so why do I ever wear a suit?

I finally figured it out.

I do not want my clothes to make an impression for me.

I dress to not stand out. (At least when doing business.)

If someone at a business meeting is going to remember something about me, I don’t want it to be my clothes. I want it to be the idea I was talking to them about. So if they expect me to be wearing a suit, I want to show up in one, so they don’t even notice it. If they are expecting me to wear khaki’s, then that’s what I want to be wearing. So that my ideas get 100% of their attention.

And I’ll wearing my sweats as soon as I get home …

7 Responses to “Why I wear suits”

  1. Eugenia says:

    I highly disagree with both this blog post, and your previous one (“Young people dressing unprofessionally?”).

    If people or coworkers or business partners are going to judge you by how you dress, is better to not work with these people in the first place.

    I personally enjoy and I’d encourage people to wear jeans, t-shirts, sandals or flip-flops at work — as long as their work does not require a special suit for hygiene or safety purposes. Basically, anything that makes someone comfortable, is a plus to the way they do business. Because they will be comfortable. Because they will feel good about what they’re doing. Because this will reflect back to the people who work with.

    I much rather see a doctor come to see me with jeans rather than a tie and a lab coat. Same for this CEO or that CEO that I might be doing business with.

    In fact, I see ties and suits and high heels and I laugh at it. In 500 years people will be looking photos of us in business suits, and they will laugh their a$$ off, they way we look at aristocrats’ wardrobe from the 16th Century. And they will think: “really, this thing was comfortable? What a bunch of complete hypocrites”.

    And that’s why I don’t wear things that don’t make sense on my body. I wear jeans, a t-shirt, and sports shoes. Sometimes, when too much heat, I wear a very “airy” and super-comfortable dress, with flip-flops. Do I look sexy? The answer is no. But do I really have to play by rules that people expect from females? I hate to role-playing just because “I’m supposed to”.

    And one of the reasons I hate going to weddings is because I have to wear things I don’t believe in.

    stormy Reply:
    July 27th, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    If you feel free to ignore the unspoken dress code in professional, then you should feel free to ignore it at weddings.

    The fact that you do dress up for weddings means that you feel the peer pressure from friends and family more than collegues. Or that you care more about your success with friends than your success at work.

    behdad Reply:
    July 28th, 2010 at 2:58 am

    Although I came here to leave a comment close to Eugenia’s, I’ve got to say, I’m speechless after reading your response.

    I think I’m just happy that I don’t have to care about my attire at work.

    stormy Reply:
    July 28th, 2010 at 3:20 am

    Behdad, why speechless?

    By not wearing a suit when every one else is wearing a suit you are saying you don’t care. If you don’t care then, why do you care at the wedding?

    Luckily most of us do not have jobs where we have to wear suits to work!

    Justin Dearing Reply:
    July 28th, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Maybe someone thinks the unspoken dresscode at work is a hindrance to their work.

    The purpose of a wedding is to celebrate tradition, family, in general, and in particular the particular bride and the groom of the day, its about the family and friends present, the joining of two families, and about every marriage that ever happened.

    Now business is about getting paid to solve problems. Therefore, questioning a dress code at a wedding is disrespecting the whole concept of marriage, while disrespecting a dress code at work means you disagree with the practical aspects of a dress code in a practical setting.

    Also, its much easier to “suck it up” for a few weddings a year, than to do so 5 days a week.

    Eugenia Reply:
    July 28th, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Exactly. It’s one thing to wear high heels and dresses 1-2 times a year, and another to have to do it 300 times a year. The behind-your-back talk of your friends and family about not wearing “something nice” doesn’t worth it for just 1-2 days in the year.

    Heck, I’d wear a suit 1-2 times a year at work too if there was a special occasion, or because a big-time CEO might visit our company and our boss needs us to make a good impression. There’s no problem with a tiny dose of hypocrisy if the occasion warrants it. Our society is built on top of these appearances so trying to be a fanatic and be “anti” 100%, won’t serve me right anyway. I’m not that stupid to “fight” the system. I simply avoid it as much as I can. I need to be flexible in order to survive in this society, but mostly I must do what I want and what I believe is right.

    So, doing it a little bit, doesn’t hurt anyone (if anything, it might help). But doing it every single working day is out of the question. Let there be known though that in the last 10 years:
    Times I wore a suit for work: 0
    Times I dressed nicely because of festive occasions: 5

    All my other days I wore comfortable sportswear, jeans, t-shirts, and that airy dress I was talking about above. And I feel good.

  2. Phil says:

    I have five suits, tailored for me. They are a conservative cut, made of good wool that wears like iron. I can have them resized if I gain or lose weight. I’ve had them for over 6 years now, and if I don’t rip them or spill something horrible on them I’ll have them for 6 more, so they’re cheaper then dockers and whatever shirts are faddish.
    Cut to fit me, they are more comfortable than jeans, and I look great in them, and people take me seriously. A decent wool is insulating, and it breaths, so it’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter, just like and insulated house. I can take off the jacket if I get warm, but in a server room or an office how often is that? I never have to think about getting dressed in the morning. What’s not to like?
    If you’e pressed for cash you can get great bargins on used mens suits on ebay or even thrift stores, and then spend $30.00 to have them tailored.