A week or so ago, a lovely friend from law school reminded me of the saying “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

I like this saying, and I thank this friend for reminding me of this. I think this is particularly important in today’s more laissez-faire atmosphere. I grew up seeing my dad in a suit and tie every day. And most business was run in suits. Casual days hadn’t been invented yet. And jeans were the last thing you’d wear outside of the weekend.

So what happened to all of this? Am I so old-fashioned that, as “casual” offends me, people are offended at me in a suit?

I can’t say it’s a generational thing. I look around my office and a significant number of people are dressed what I would consider “casual” … all week long! Granted, my wing of the office you will find the suits, but every other part of the building looks like a stroll down your average shopping mall walk. Only one other woman in the office wears suits on a regular basis… but hers are more a fashion statement: pink plaid, fringed edges, inappropriately short skirts. But at least she looks very put together each day and very presentable. And oddly enough, I heard this woman use the same saying about dressing for the job you want earlier this week (which makes me wonder, in a curious way, what job it is exactly she wants…).

Is it so much to ask for a similar effort from others, though? Is it too much to ask to put away the colored jeans and to go find some nice trousers?

I suppose I am a bit old-fashioned. But we are still a business. And we are to be taken with the respect we command. It’s hard to give business respect to your average casual look, in my opinion.

It’s a matter of what side of the business you are on, I suppose. Like I said, my wing is found in suits. We meet with other businessmen and lawyers and big clients. But even our CAD drafters, estimators, and even our IT guys usually wear pressed pants and pressed shirts daily. It’s nice. They present well.

So I guess I am griping about women being too lazy.

My planner gives me cute little quotes every day. One that popped up a few weeks ago was from Helena Rubinstein, saying “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” To those women, I say: Have pride! Think about your presence at work, and to those with whom you interact.

I think people are shocked that the two principals of the company will frequently come and conference with me in my office, as if I have been there from day one. It’s not that I am that particularly interesting, I don’t think. It has to do with a level of respect I have earned…in very large part by dressing the part. If I look like I should be meeting with the principals and their outside business partners (the pinstripe suit crew…complete with those little rubber shoe things), then I am sitting right there in the meetings, being asked for my opinion and advice.

…Which leads to something my beloved Estate Planning professor once said about presence and delivery: “If you say it with confidence, you can charge more!”


One thought on “Dressing the Part (the Work Edition)

  1. Pingback: Working Backwards (or, Navigating a Generational Gap) « Thursday Morning Meditations

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