Not wearing a suit

September 05, 2013

I don’t wear a suit to work, even though I’m employed by a large consultancy corporation that expects its staff to dress smartly.

In theory, we have dress-down Fridays, but in practice, among the development team, it’s dress-down every day. Besides, I work at home on Fridays, so dressing down means not even getting dressed.

Some recent research suggests that dressing like your colleagues helps your career, and it’s no coincidence that members of social groups with a strong sense of togetherness dress alike - think of bands, gangs, military units, and sports teams and supporters.

People who’ve done more research than I ever will make the connection between post-war management techniques and military hierarchy, and it’s easy to point to casual dress in startup culture as a social equaliser and flattener of hierarchy.

I used to wear a suit a lot, out of choice, because I enjoyed it. People who know me might be surprised, but I like making an effort with my appearance, although I would resent having to wear a shirt and tie every day.

The way a person dresses makes a statement, but what statement is it that I’m making by the way I dress at work?

  • more interested in getting stuff done than following tradition
  • work means doing, not talking - unfussy clothes that can take some abuse
  • tamely rebellious
  • mildly non-conformist
  • respect for achievement rather than organisational hierarchy