Ohhh, suits you Sir

Unlike Lyle, I do not, have not and probably will not ever own a three-piece suit. I don’t really see the point in adding an extra layer to a set of clothing that I’ll only wear when under some form of emotional stress and usually in a warm place (unless the air-conditioning is working). Interviews (stress), weddings (mostly in spring/summer so warm), funerals (stress).

That said, I do love wearing a suit. Partly because I don’t do it very often and it’s nice to ‘dress up’ sometimes, and partly because it gives me a sense of importance, a sense of power if you will.

In a small way this is why I recently changed my ‘work’ wardrobe, and now wear shirts everyday (except for Fridays, obv). Of course I didn’t really have a choice in the matter as most of the senior staff I met during the interview were wearing similar attire, and obviously (as I’m also a ‘senior member of staff’) I have to fit in. This is quite a departure from previous jobs where, and this stretches back through my entire career, I’ve always just turned up wearing… whatever the hell I wanted. Jeans, of course, were regulation and coupled with a variety of t-shirts, polo shirts and even a proper shirt if the occasion demanded it. The Queen didn’t visit very often though…

In saying that, just wearing a shirt gives me a sense of professionalism, a sense of importance and pride that has most definitely had an influence on both how I conduct myself and how others relate to me.

It’s little more than cod-psychology of course, but the easiest example is to imagine walking into your local branch to meet the manager who is dressed in scruffy jeans and a paint splattered t-shirt. The clothes don’t have an effect on the amount of knowledge he has, or about how he conducts his business but they will most certainly decrease your trust, and likely have some minor impact on the way the manager treats you as well (he may be more ‘friendly’ because he’s lost his “appearance of power”).

Within that previous paragraph is a small glimpse of why I’ve never really bothered about this stuff before, ultimately I’m a pretty confident guy and what I wear to work has no impact on my abilities to do my job.

Ahhh at last, we get to the dichotomy.

I know that what I wear to work doesn’t change my knowledge nor the way I approach my working day, versus, I know that wearing a shirt to work, and being a little smarter dressed than some, makes me (in MY head) a little more important and a little more authoritive.

It shouldn’t, but it does.

I’m not suggesting that simply whacking on a shirt, a shirt and tie, or even a three-piece suit, makes you smarter, more powerful, or more authoritative than anyone else. In fact there is plenty of evidence, most of sitting within 100 feet from me, that that is not so (most of the developers wear jeans and t-shirts and all of them are pretty darn smart), but without a doubt it does make you feel different and, dare I say “ergo”, it must have SOME effect on how you perform.

Addendum
Cod-psychology – I did a little digging whilst I wrote this post and can find little to no definition of “cod psychology”. I used it to represent what I thought was overly simple or fake psychology (at least it’s so simple it seems fake) but I can find no definition of “cod” that supports this, anyone got any ideas?

11 comments

  1. My own personal definition of cod is derived from cod reggae. Onde word: UB40.

    So imagine UB40 doing psychology, and there you go. Everything makes perfect sense now.

  2. Consider this then. The project I now work on is based in London. I am the only person on the project in Edinburgh. Now although I wear a shirt and tie to work, because it is office policy, the shirt is usually open and the tie loose. I wear smart trousers, but because I currently have an ingrowing toenail, I also wear a pair of blue trainers rather than smart shoes.

    Once a week we have a project meeting. I join the meeting via a speakerphone in their meeting room. So I am just a disembodied voice. On the one occasion that I went down to London to spend two days working with them, I wore my best shirt, best shoes, smartest shirts and ties, because I wanted to make a good impression. So obviously that is the only image they are going to have of me.

    So, every week, when we have that meeting, I lounge in my chair looking like a scruffbag who has been dragged through a hedge backwards, yet meanwhile down in London I am the smartest dressed person in the room!

  3. It is not the same ‘cod’ as in ‘cod-piece’, ‘cod’ meaning ‘bag’ or ‘scrotum’, but from the fish, as in ‘Cod’s head’ meaning ‘fool’, ergo ‘hoax’, ‘fake’ or ‘pretence’, as in ‘cod-psychology’, ‘cod-Shakespeare’, ‘cod-French accent’.

    Sad it isn’t scrotum, though, isn’t it?

  4. It wouldn’t be c.o.d? cash on delivery, cause of depression or can’t offer decision perhaps…?

  5. Sure mum, get yourself a blog and a URL… 😉

    (why do I get the feeling that my to do list has just been altered, that “comment highlighting” plugin now seems a lot more important…)

    Alan, I will admit that I have donned a shirt and tie for a (short) video conference. Below the desk I was in boxers (it was the middle of summer). I felt like a bad comedy newsreader sketch…

  6. Re the suit – I said exactly the same, I could never see myself in a three-piece suit, let alone buying one.

    Yet somehow it just seemed like the right thing to do when in a very traditional tailors place, and I decided I did want a formalish, traditionalish get up. And it’s fantastic. 🙂

  7. I don’t wear suits to work, and in fact my manager once commented that I dress like a kids’ TV presenter. I’m happy with the way I dress, and because I work in a creative role, I get away with wearing pretty much whatever I like, but the sad thing is that sometimes I wonder if I’d be taken more seriously if I DID wear a suit. (Of course, if I was a man, things would be so much simpler.)

  8. Not sure it’d be simpler Cat, in fact I’m pretty sure that if I was turn up dressed in your clothes things would PROBABLY get a little complicated. 😉

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