Well, yes, I happen to think that they do! As a Generation X woman in the working world, I grew up in the 1980s graduating from high school and college during this decade. I started my career during this time too, and it was all about the power suit for both men and women. Shoulder pads, big hair, pantyhose, skirts and pumps were my daily uniform. If you were a guy, you didn’t even think twice about wearing anything else but a suit to work everyday. Remember Casual Corner for women or Young America for men? You may wonder, how did this influence me? Well, it influenced me greatly because I felt more “together” when I had clothes on my body that made me feel powerful and confident. And it also made a good “first impression” as an agent working in the insurance and banking industry. I felt customers trusted and believed in me because of the impression I left with them. I walked, talked, gestured and even sat differently when I was wearing my suit of armor. I also remember that dress codes were strict back then and pushing the envelope was not ever an option.
However, we live in a different time where Millennials are driving this ever so changing time of dressing for success. There are so many different opinions to the conversation of whether Millennials are becoming too casual, or if this is a new outlook than can lead to a better work environment for the next generations. If you are a business owner, it is important to access your clientele and audience and decide how conservative your company is. Not every company or organization requires a suit, but wearing clothing that is ripped or torn, ill-fitting or not professional may send the wrong message. What are your culture goals for your brand and for your employees as well? Ask yourself, “Do employees want to not be distracted by uncomfortable clothing and can work diligently in casual attire? As I ask myself this question, I really don’t remember feeling “uncomfortable” in my business suits. I felt professional and confident. I think my attitude towards my job was even better. I do remember that my feet hurt in my pumps by the end of the day, but that was my “normal.” Or, do you as a business owner believe that dressing to impress is a good mentality where employees need to look polished and professional at all times? Maybe I’m old school here, but I have always felt that dressing up for work and projecting a polished image is just good for everybody involved. You are representing not only yourself, but your company too.
Dress codes define your brand and the message to your audience, and it is important to choose wisely what message you want to portray. Once you have reached this decision, it can positively impact your company and its long term success.