Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Appropriate Attire

Formal style

I'll be so bold as to say that anyone who knows me knows that I have a sense of style. I know what's appropriate to wear for various occasions and thanks to Details and Men's Health I have some insight about what looks good, too. I'm not perfect and still occasionally commit a faux pas--usually this is on purpose because I'm relaxing and just don't care.

At work it depends on my job, but I usually opt for the more relaxed look. I'm not a company representative and I'm not a businessman who needs to impress investors or a board of directors. When I worked at Barnes & Noble I was a bookseller and with constantly moving around and working in the receiving room I was usually dressed more casually for functionality and comfort. Working IT at my current job, I see other employees regularly, but they're fellow employees, not customers. My boss asks us to dress in a "business casual" appearance which according to sources can range from "suit with a slightly relaxed tie" to "jeans and a polo shirt" depending on the office.

I usually opt for the "polo shirt with chinos" look. While I think it's somewhat unnecessary, it's easier to go with what my boss says than to argue.

They can be creative; you can't

(Unless you work as a creative director at Pixar or Apple, companies don't like people who disagree with management, no matter how logical your argument. I've been threatened with termination for doing so on more than one instance.) Yesterday I received an e-mail that today is "professional dress day" for the office--this means only one thing: someone is visiting and the Director wants to make a good impression.

The last time this happened we had two employees from another office (our same company) visit. They wore the standard, daily attire of a polo shirt with slacks; the Director of the office had everyone here in suits and dresses. When I had a minute with them I mentioned that the Director put out a notification telling everyone to dress "professionally" today; they replied that they were happy to know that since they were feeling a little under dressed. I honestly don't understand why we had to look professional for people who worked for the same company at the same roles with the same dress codes. It only served to make them uncomfortable and inconvenience the employees here.

When I was a kid I remember my Mom asking me to help clean the house before company would visit. I never understood why--that wasn't how we lived, why should we give a false impression of who we are?

Not A doctor, THE Doctor

These days that feels akin to telling a girl I'm a doctor when I first meet her to make a good first impression. Yes, there is a hint of truth there--I'm in graduate school and will hopefully, someday, maybe, get a PhD and then be technically a doctor, but I'm not a doctor in the generally accepted and understood medical sense.

Asking who is visiting the office today I was told it's a friend of the CEO. A friend. I don't know if that means he/she is an executive, a consultant, a potential investor, or just someone who knows them and wants to see what their company is like. Doesn't really matter though, we're still lying to them. We don't dress professionally everyday; it'd be stupid for us to do so. We're a call center for heaven's sake! We never see customers so why in the world are we dressed professionally, other than to potentially increase the revenue of a local dry cleaner?

Comfortable and functional

By all sense of reason, we should be able to come to work in bath robes and towels. No customers see us, why does it matter if we're wearing suits and ties? I'm a firm believer in the theory that if people like their job and are comfortable they're more productive, and therefore we should be allowed to dress in a comfortable manner, and to me that means a bath robe.


--jeff * said...

what if you wore a bathrobe with a tie? the robe kind of hangs like a suit jacket....

Becky said...

I think there's a difference if you are working in a suit or in your pajamas; you feel more productive in nice dress. Some people dress up to take tests at college because it helps them feel more on top of things. And, I try to keep the house clean all the time, but that's not feasible, so I do try to clean up before people come over--maybe to make them feel more comfortable (if I walk into someone's messy apt, I feel like I'm invading their space more than if it's organized and inviting).