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.
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?