I’m not quite sure where it all started. Casual Fridays? The home office? Aloha Friday? What began with an emphasis on relaxing the traditional dress code on one day of the week in the late 90’s has turned into the steady casualization of the American Workplace in appearance, mindset and behavior.

Let’s Be Honest

How often do you really associate sloppy appearance with an enhanced professional image or personal brand in the workplace?

When was the last time a casual mindset really struck you as forward-thinking and contributive?

Just because someone chooses not to wear socks with a pair of dress shoes doesn’t mean that the entire organization should adopt that as their new standard of appearance.

This isn’t about being judgmental or lecturing. I’ve dressed traditionally at work and I’ve dressed more casually. What I can definitively tell you in both cases is that it’s about attitude.

An Attitude of Professionalism

I don’t see the value in diminishing appearance simply for the sake of comfort. Just like I don’t value trendy simply because it’s well…trendy.

Granted, I’ve been referred to as hyper-professional on more than one occasion. There’s no doubt that I value the way I present and carry myself. I’d rather be known as hyper-professional than overly-casual. It’s an attitude.

We represent ourselves in how we look, behave and communicate and others determine how seriously we are to be taken based on these factors as well. When we over casualize anything we put our credibility and professionalism at risk.

The Practicality of it All

Have you ever noticed how people continually try to encourage and help you lower your attitude of professionalism simply to justify their own limited view?

I wear a suit on a regular basis. Recently, there’s been an uptick in the number of people who’ve commented that “wearing a suit is over the top and unnecessary in today’s business climate.” The two questions that run through my mind each and every time are the same.

“Is that a fact or is that your opinion?”
“Is your comment more about my attitude or is it more reflective of your attitude?”

For me, wearing a suit has nothing to do with today’s business climate or what someone says is required, preferred or in style. My appearance, and by extension my suit, reflects my attitude toward myself, my clients, our relationship and my mindset towards our work together.

Check out this Lifehack and you’ll gain immediate perspective on why an attitude of professionalism and corresponding appearance matter practically.

In 2010, just nine short years ago, UBS, a Swiss bank, published a 44-page manual for employees on how to dress. It included everything from practical advice such as, “”If you wear a watch, it suggests reliability and that punctuality is of great concern to you,” to the personal: “The ideal time to apply perfume is directly after you take a hot shower, when your pores are still open.” While the employee dress manual was over-the-top, it acknowledges and re-enforces a simple and practical point for anyone who’s looking to influence outcomes and results.

Your attitude of professionalism and how you present yourself matters.

#Thoughtstarter

Don’t lower your standards to what others view as “the norm or acceptable”. Suit up and define your attitude of professionalism.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts on casualization in the workplace in the comments.