“would you please excuse the dress?”
Over the past couple months, the topic of dress code has come up on a couple different fronts. It’s not a new topic and one I’ve spent a bit of time wrestling with in the past. Let me share a bit of my journey!
Back in the day’s of my early corporate experience in the early 90’s, many were just coming out of the period of time where you were required to wear a tie to the office on a daily basis. In fact, the supervisors on our production lines were just coming out of a season where they had to wear “clip on” ties. They were “clip on” due to safety reasons and not wanting to strangle someone if it got caught in a piece of machinery. I wasn’t crazing about “dress codes” back in those days. Thus, I simply tried to be respectful, but took full advantage of “jean” day whenever possible. An irony with this statement is that in high school I was the “best dressed” in our class! Go figure!
Fast forward to the past few years, the topic of dress comes up. As related in some of my prior blogs, my client profile is actually very diverse. As a recent example, in the same day, I was at a dry cleaner, environmental company, restaurant, and home office. Further complicating matters, I previously was operating out of multiple brands (eg. Arnold Business Advisors LLC, Truth@Work, LIFE Leadership, IIB, Right Management, etc.) of which I had separate business cards for each. I found myself walking into the closet in the morning, saying “who’s my audience today?” Differing logo apparel was only the starting point as I also was attempting to decide whether it was “suit and tie” day, business casual, blue jean casual, or maybe a combination. As one who’s not much on “impressing people” through my dress, you can imagine this caused a few challenges along the way.
When I re-branded as chrisarnold.org, this cleared up a lot of my own personal challenges. Since I had the pleasure of working directly with MediaFuel (my branding partner) prior to the re-brand facilitating a team alignment and providing coaching/consulting services, they had some valued insight. Basically, the feedback I received was “Chris, you’ve been working with us for a number of months, and I’ve never once thought about what you were wearing. What are you most comfortable wearing? _____ Then, be that person!” So, looking at my site, you’re going to experience a contemporary feel and, more often than not, you’re going to find me in a pair of blue jeans, respectfully dressed. Oh, there are clearly circumstances (eg. weddings, funerals, client request) that I’ll throw on a suit and tie; however, that’s simple coming from a place of respect and not from a place of trying to “impress someone”!
So, I mentioned this had come up recently. One of the areas is in one of my most favorites places to engage in the conversation – the church. Yes, actually had some conversation with one of my new pastors friends where he was sharing his experience and, even recently, brought it up as a teaching topic within their congregation. As you’d likely guess, many in the congregation were taking a bit of exception to the church leadership team’s contemporary, blue jean and, sometimes, tie shirt appearance. Now, I’m not hear to “preach” the sermon on this one; however, I don’t know that scripture says a lot about what I should be wearing to church. In short, that was my pastor friends teaching as well.
Then, another recent discussion was in one of our advisory boards. The topic of the conversation was how some environments won’t even listen to you if you don’t show up at their door in a suit and tie or, at least, a more formal sense of business casual. I’m not going to name names at this point, however, I anticipate you might be able to stereo type of few places this is the case. It seems that the old adage, “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression” holds true in many of these environments and “dress” is an area many use to formulate this first impression.
So, where does this leave us with today’s conversation? Well, similar to my pastor friend sharing with his congregation, I have decided to simple by “Chris” which more often than not looks like a nice pair jeans and a nice shirt. Yes, I respectfully dress it up a bit on occasions; however, I’m really not here to impress you with my dress. Candidly, I normally find my clients are hiring me for reasons much more value added than my personal appearance. So, if I happen to show up and my dress causes you issues, would you “please excuse the dress?” Finally, if you’re relating to today’s blog post, might I encourage you to “just be you!”