Don’t Wear a Uniform to Work


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As dressed up as I am willing to get for an average work day.

Ok, this is the last link to Hannah’s blog post. This is the last thing I disagree with her on- the need to “dress the part.”

If everybody else is doing something, it doesn’t matter if it seems inherently pointless or cost inefficient. The mere fact that everyone else is doing it often indicates that it has some competitive aspect. Tourists and outsiders in DC will often note that there’s almost a uniform among white collar workers in the area. Why is this?

Policy analysts don’t produce better forecasts by shopping at Brooks Brothers or Vineyard Vines. If they did, a book like The Signal and the Noisewouldn’t be necessary. The preppy clothing choices add nothing to the work that they are doing. Yet they all do it! Why? Because they are not competing with regular people for jobs and social opportunities, they’re competing with other policy analysts, and all the other policy analysts are wearing crisp jackets or salmon-colored pants even when it’s 88 degrees. Opt out of these pointless games if you want, but if you don’t compete, don’t complain when you don’t win.

First thing here- this assumes that these workers wearing suit coats in July don’t think what they’re doing is stupid. If they actually think it’s stupid too, then they probably won’t sneer when you don’t conform to the dress code. Even if they do, being underestimated has it’s value too.

Second though, some of the emerging great jobs in America are pushing the other way. My cousin recently took a marketing job dealing with media buys in Manhattan, and was surprised by the casual dress code around the office, where jeans were more encouraged than suits. If he was surprised, my grandmother was absolutely stunned. The kinds of jobs you want in 2015 are not encouraging you to put up a false front of yourself. They’re saying relax and produce good work. No one really cares if you can rock that suit-coat.

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