By Michael Lang
Free-Photos / Pixabay
He looks trustworthy. She couldn’t hack it. He lacks class. She looks efficient.
Humans possess an armoury of instincts that keep us alive. We also use these to make snap judgements about people based on the clothes they wear. In the workplace, especially, we are conditioned with preconceived ideas of what is appropriate and what to expect. These ideas, after all, are the result of years of so called “tradition”. It’s for this reason that when I was to meet with the CEO of a high-profile company I donned a suit and tie for the visit but more on that later.
Neuroscience research tells us that we are more likely to tune into a person we view as authentic subconsciously. Couple this with research showing clothing has a significant influence on perceptions of credibility and intelligence and it becomes apparent why business attire remains traditional. However, the landscape is shifting on old beliefs, do the old traditions and thoughts still hold true?
Last year PriceWaterhouseCoopers ditched the rules instead issuing employees with a new dress code. It’s simple; dress in a way that is respectful to clients and colleagues, makes them feel great and is safe and appropriate for the working environment. Their idea- unlock hidden creativity and diversity.
A suit has its advantages
Doing away with dress codes may take some convincing from the other side – their clients. Could an unaware visitor be personally affronted by the casual attire of the office? Yes, it’s a possibility but would it be a catalyst for the immediate withdrawal of any future business relationship? Unsure; remembering that our perceptions of credibility, a potential deal-breaker in business, can be based entirely on clothing albeit.
A traditional salesperson
Let’s picture a traditional salesperson. What would they look like? Clean white shirt, black pants, tie, sleek compendium and clean shaved. I bet you’ve met and brought from a salesperson in a casual shirt, sporting a beard and armed with a laptop-no briefcase in sight. The notion of the neat, conservative salesperson image will continue to be challenged.
The future is flexible
Considering the future, 10 or 20 years, what can we expect. We know fashion will progress and the army of Stay-At-Home-Entrepreneurs will grow and the younger generation will rise to exec status. Skype calls in pyjamas, holographic clothing or even holding meetings by the pool in swimwear- all possible.
In the 21st Century do we have the right to tell adults what to wear? It could come down to a question of trust, execs asking whether employees should be trusted to make the right decisions about how to dress.
As much of Australia sweltered through a weekend heatwave, it evokes another question. Is upholding traditional values worth the ill-effects of uncontrollable factors such as the weather. Particularly in my home state of Queensland, where it’s hot one day, hotter the next. Should we be expected to feel hot under the collar or just outlaw the suit between the months of December and March?
You’ve probably …read more
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