Is professional dress a completely dead concept in today’s business world?

I was reading an article last week about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called “Hoodie vs Suits“.  The article talks about Zuckerberg’s dress code and how his “casual” style may cost his company points with the Wall Street crowd.  This got me to thinking about how we judge people based on how they dress, especially when it come to business.  We have witnessed a dramatic change in the way some industry’s CEOs present themselves from a “face-of-the-business” stand point.  The article brought to mind something that I wanted to discuss this week:  Is professional dress a dead concept in today’s business world?

If you are someone who works in a corporate office, you already know that there are books that focus on office attire.  You probably have a specific dress code for your office that you must adhere to on a daily basis.  The rules of engagement are very clearly defined and if you do not follow them, you are considered to be “unprofessional”.  Things considered to be “bad” include:

Facial piercings

Visible tattoos

Anything tight / revealing

What I find interesting is how most of the young CEOs like Zuckerberg have followed the example set by guys like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, keeping with the casual dress style even in situations where it may not be prudent.  Zuckerberg is not the only one.

There are a number of CEOs in the technical industry that have this same style:

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark

LinkedIn executive chairman and co-founder Reid Hoffman

Founder and CEO of Groupon Andrew Mason

Dennis Crowley, co-founder and CEO of social network Foursquare

And who can forget the CEO of Wayne enterprises, playboy Bruce Wayne who prefers a “Bat Suit” to the boring business suit.

I always thought that Jobs and Gates were trying to show that they were hip or rebellious.

This image appeals with the target audience they were trying to reach – young adults or adults young at heart.  Was it great for the industry as a whole?  I think that for the people who feel business suits are the only appropriate dress code, they may have found it hard to take Jobs and Gates seriously at first.   Obviously Jobs and Gates got the last laugh – all the way to the bank.  I would think they being very confident in themselves was what ultimately won the day, but did they realize they would start a fashion trend for future CEOs?  My guess would be no or at least the main reason for their attire was not a fashion statement.

My Dad wore a suit to work his entire career.  My job allows me to sport different looks depending on the situation.  I wear everything from a uniform, which includes a Henley shirt and jeans for general functions to a tuxedo for big performances.  Even in the corporate arena, it has become more common place for certain companies to allow for the casual look depending on your job function.

Is professional dress a dead concept in today’s business world?  Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg and their contemporaries may say yes, but most of the rest of the world would still say no.  I believe that it is appropriate to dress for the occasion or situation no matter your job.  We will see if the young billionaires of our time agree or if they remain future business fashion trend setters.  Feel free to leave your thoughts below in the comment section.

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One Comment on “Is professional dress a completely dead concept in today’s business world?

  1. Pingback: Is professional dress a completely dead concept ? | Pain Drive

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