During my undergraduate years, chances were you’d find me with a collared shirt on 3 out of 5 days a week, a tie 2 out of those 3, and a full suit once. I was looking to break into corporate America and the corporate America I wanted to be a part of required that every day. My goals have since changed.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy putting on an impeccably tailored suit, some well-polished shoes, and picking up my attaché briefcase from time to time. I choose to do it a few times a month. But it’s just not necessary to always put on such cumbersome clothing in my current setting, so I don’t.
The culture of the American workplace is changing. It is relaxing more and more. Lines that were once drawn in the sand have been eroded by the wind and water of the beach we all hope to live on one day.
Structure has its place. When I meet with a donor whose background is corporate, I put on my best navy or charcoal suit, a crisp shirt, and a tie that conveys the message I’m looking to relay. But why burden myself on a day that I’m not in the mood to have a tight piece of silk knotted on my neck when I’m just going to be punching away at a keyboard, not meeting with anyone who doesn’t see me every day?
In addition, it is unnecessarily expensive to get senselessly dressed every single day. Dress shirts, when cleaned properly, take extra time and resources to maintain. Suits require dry cleaning. Shoes must be resoled once they’ve made it enough miles.
There is a time and place for suits and ties, just as there is a time and place for chinos and polos. Shoot, even jeans are appropriate in many settings but that’s a discussion for you and your higher ups.
Work shouldn’t feel stressful. It should feel like you’re making your life better in every way. Let’s start thinking and acting differently.
Make professional development a priority.