Dress Becomes…Er…

Mark TwainIt was Mark Twain who said “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society”. Was it only dress he was talking about?

Does what we wear define us, or do we wear whatever expresses our quintessential selves? If our workplace has a dress code, does that inhibit our creativity? If we allow people to dress, or not dress, in whatever they like, does that boost productivity and innovation?

Cut the crap. Just because I’m required to turn up for work in a business suit doesn’t mean it sucks the creative juice out of me, does it? Ok, let me get some work done on my face so I look more like Steve Jobs. Get a cool T-shirt and designer jeans, too! Will that mean I’ll replace Tim Cook next week? Go figure!

I served in uniform for 24 years. I’ve gone through all sorts of crap, some literally, some, pretty close. Never in all those years have I felt that my uniform cramped my style. No, my style went much deeper than that! If you’ve gone through some of the leadership and management challenges I’ve had to tackle, you’d think twice before saying that clothes can cramp your style. Mind you, there is a place for proper dressing, and the purpose of that is always to honour those we would be interacting with during any particular occasion, but clothing does not define us. There is such a thing as expressing our personality via our dressing, but even that does not define the quintessential us. The way we dress does indicate our state of mind, our level of confidence, to a certain extent, but it still does not define who we really are. So, do dress appropriately with the intent of honouring those we would be coming into contact with, as well as dress to frame the message of our countenances.

At the end of the day, we ought to be sensitive to social norms and customs, but not necessarily to be shaped by them. Go well!

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