Monday, February 21, 2011

RANT: Corporate dress codes are an anachronism

I want to talk to you about something that is irritating to all who have to work in a corporate environment.

I am talking about the "corporate look". I am talking about the myth of the professional attire. I am so sick of hearing about the corporate dress code and how it allegedly looks "professional".

Why does a suit mean "professional" in the first place? When was this decided?

Well I started to look into the origins of the three-piece suit. Something bothered me about it, and the origins of the three piece suit needed to be clearly identified. I hoped that by learning of it's origin, I could identify the reasons why a suit is considered professional.

Well in my research, I find out some rather interesting. The modern suit appeared in the early 19th century. In fact, save for a few variations in material and cuts, the suit hasn't changed all that much

And also it was associated with the upper-class. Meaning that the reason that we considers suits to be professional, is in reality a remnant of a belief that if you look like the upper-class you will be part of the upper-class.

And since it was enforced by businesses and the like, it became a form of unspoken tradition. A tradition based on the aesthetic mimicry.

And therefore the argument for the suit being professional, is really an argument to tradition. Therefore is should be seen as nothing more but a logical fallacy, that restricts no only creative thinking, but also would enforce a lack of functionality on your attire.

But that wouldn't be enough to convince the modern work-place to change it's view on the matter. So I have given some thought as to how one should approach the problem of a workplace that tends to bend to such antiquated views on what is worn and how they could convince the workplace they are in, to relax their dress-code hold.

1) Three piece suits are costly to the individual, as the market and after-market have fees of maintenance of these expensive attire. Dry cleaning, tailoring and the companies that sell these suits are expensive. The T.O.C. (Total Ownership Cost) force workers to ask of raises as to keep the image up, and it cost the company time (Leaving work early so they can balance trips to the cleaner's and non-work like).

2) The suit doesn't fit the needs of the modern work-place when you need to keep your tools on yourself at all times. Where are the pockets to keep your data drives, your pda's and other tools of the modern workplace on a three piece suit? Also, It is not designed for people who need to be active. It suffers from from that design flaw. Dress shoes FAIL to provide the proper support to a person's feet. they are ill-designed.

3) More and more people are getting tired of people in suits, because they have learned to identify it not with professionalism, but with people who have used appearances to mask gross incompetence (Think POLITICIANS). People who do make that association, are usually clients, and we don't want to alienate the profit margin now do we?

Mind you, you won't win. But if we slowly chip at them slowly, eventually we will be just as professional in a hoodie and sweatpants as we are in a three-piece suit. Why? Because at that point the whole "professionalism" bit will no longer stem from appearances but from the quality of service rendered as it should have been in the first place.


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