1 September 2016
What do you wear for work?I was fascinated to read about a recent study by Harvard psychologists that suggests people who flout the office dress code makes themselves appear more competent and of higher status.
It notes Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg as prime examples.
The psychologists said: “Certain CEOs of major corporations, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, have been known to appear without ties or even wearing sweatshirts at interviews and formal gatherings such as the World Economic Forum.
“These results, which hold even when controlling for gender and age, indicate that higher status and performance within a given community is correlated with a stronger tendency to deviate from a conforming dress code (e.g., wearing jeans, sneakers, T-shirts rather than professional attire).”
I would add Steve Jobs to that list too, and many others. But I wonder if this is more of a trend in the tech industry than a sweeping statement to cover the whole spectrum.
The academic study did note that the choice of wearing casual clothes must appear as intentional rather than seeming to be an image of laziness.
I remember many years ago when we were much smaller and had an incredibly relaxed dress code, a potential client came to visit and told us that our dress code had given them a bad impression.
Whilst I don’t think anyone should be judged on the way they dress, I think that it is a sign of respect. For example, if I was meeting a client, attending a key industry event or like, I would always wear a suit and tie. Equally, I expect my client-facing teams to wear suits and ties for this reason.
Often, people carry themselves differently when they’re wearing a suit or dressing smartly.
That being said, at UKFast we are flexible with our dress code. When the weather is great, we have Beach Week, where the team can wear their summer clothes and be comfortable. Equally, when it is exceptionally cold in winter, we relax the dress code so people can wear their boots and jumpers.
There is a clear distinction between casual and scruffy. Zuckerberg, Jobs and Gates wear casual clothes but they’re neat, ironed, clean and well fitting. They look smart, despite being casually dressed.
What do you think? How do you dress for work? Would you think someone was of higher stature if they flouted the dress code rules?