Sunday, January 31, 2010


Friday was my annual review at work. I wore a suit.

I was also approached by a number of people asking why I was wearing a suit on a Friday -- an habitually casual dress day in the Federal government. When told I was dressed for my review the responses ranged from a snort, to confused looks, to being called a suck up.

Seriously? A suit that says I respect professionalism, am proud of my work ethic, and yes, want to present a polished appearance is snort-worthy? Apparently, this makes me a bit of an amusement.

Am I the only one who positively cringes when I see baseball hats, bare midriffs, and shorts proclaiming the wearer to be juicy, strolling through the White House tours? Or that flip-flops are the preferred summer business attire staple?

As most of you know, I love clothes so I do march to the beat of my own drum in that regard.

My colleague and I often debate the purpose of professional clothing or the fact that professional attire should not fade in to anachranistic oblivion. I often come away from these discussions with the uncomfortable feeling that I am a snob.

If I am, than I will own that. In this instance.

My colleague has a valid argument that often people feel they should be judged on the quality of their work not the type of clothes they are wearing. This makes sense. I do not prescribe to the dictate that only a suit can look professional - there are plenty of professional outfits that do not involve the black or navy suit - but so often we zoom right past the compromise zone. I have arrived at meetings with outside contractors who are wearing unpressed khakis, sneakers and a sweatshirt.

And I think - Oh, they must have forgotten they had a meeting today. Sorry, but that is my first thought.

Let us not fool ourselves. Clothes are not what drive business decisions, nor is your business attire a competency in your performance evaluation. Clothes are, however, another way of expressing who you are, how you want to be perceived and they can set the tone for interactions with others throughout your day.

When we walk out of our front door every morning, we begin a journey of mutual respect in interacting with our professional colleagues that day. I respect the decisions and values you make today and vice versa. I respect your time and energy you are sharing with me today. For me, part of that is showing up presenting a tableau of polished, prepared professionalism - from my brainstorming abilities to my pressed skirt and combed hair.

My review went really well. I am pleased and my future looks bright. My director never once commented on my suit or the fact that it was a Friday so I need not have dressed up. I doubt she even noticed.

So snow came, it lingers and it shall come again. SOS!! Save your shoes!! While still looking stylish! Try these yummy boots on for your commuting pleasure.


  1. I'm with you on the professional dress issue. I have found that what I'm wearing sets my tone for the day. My work tends to be sloppy if my clothing is sloppy.

  2. Somehow, we, as a society, have lost the understanding of respect that can be portrayed by dress. How we dress for the business day tells others how you feel about yourself, as well as others.

    Showing up in whatever you picked up off the floor first, says that you don't want to be here - so what does that say about your life? And that you are willing to let others know how much you are disappointed in yourself?

    The old adage, "Clothes make the man" is still very much in play in this world; and for those of you who don't recognize it, know that you are the ones being judged unfavorably.