Dress codes have always been part of common business life. They provide a first impression and give you the ability to gain focus. But to what extend is it possible to manage the dress code and it’s functions? I’ll take you trough some thoughts.
A dress code will influence the first impression you make with your fellow business colleagues. The CEO of Adecco, Patrick de Maeseneire, stated in one of his presentations that at least seven (!) positive facts are needed to make one forget a negative first impression. You can easily imagine that a bad first impression can thus be fatal during a five-minute job application. Respecting these basic principles gives you an advantage, but doesn’t prove your abilities. The principle of authority can also be related to this first impression. It provides you with a clear hierarchy which has to be respected, like for example the relationship between the pilot and the stewards.
Managing dress codes
But it is not because you’re dressed in business, you’re going to be the next best salesperson of your company. The dress code does not make you a businessman. It will, however, point you in the right direction together with many other aspects. But getting there will only be possible by learning and using your abilities. Once you’re there, it’s your time to think about the way business is done. Dress codes are a perfect way to give an incentive on how you manage, or for whom the product you sell is intended. It’s your time to decide on the dress code.
A dress code doesn’t make you a businessman, but a businessman can make the dress code.
Both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are perfect examples. Jobs changed from an adapted clothing style, which was dependent on the occasion, to the ever-lasting turtleneck, black t-shirt, jeans and sport shoes outfit. In this way he made clear that his managerial and presentation style wouldn’t change, whether he was sick or not. It also proved his no-nonsense way of presenting new products, making us focus on what he is presenting and not on the businessman himself. Gates took another approach at this and mostly showed up in a business suit. But on the occasion of a Windows product launch, he also switched to a casual outfit. Both of these men proved one thing: dress codes give an impression, and managing them makes it possible to switch the focus of the audience.