Thursday, October 01, 2015

Whatever Happened to Dress to Impress

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog you know that I have been in and out of the workforce for the past 10 years. As much as I love having my own business and calling the shots, I still have to keep a roof over my head and food on the table, without solely passing the buck onto my "I've got your back" husband.

In August of this year, I started training for a position in a Company I prefer not to mention.  From Day One, I was shocked to see how my Millennial co-workers chose to come to work.  Some looked as though they had just gotten out of bed and threw the first thing on they could find.  Others wore clothes so tight I thought for sure they would split something somewhere.

The icing on the cake was a dress down day called Wacky Wednesday, where you were invited to wear the most outlandish outfit you could find.  I decided to participate to show I could be a team player.  I wore a T-shirt with a copy of the cover of my book on the front (shameless advertising), some blue jean capris, mix-match tennis shoes and socks.  For me, it was totally wacky because I would never been seen dressing like that for work or anywhere else for that matter.  

As I looked around to see who else was participating and who wasn't, I had a hard time figuring it out so I didn't dare say anything to anyone for fear of insulting them.  

It's obvious business attire has changed significantly over the years, especially in the last 20 years. Too many people have forgotten why proper business attire is important. It seems as though the younger you are, the less you care about the idea of "dressing to impress" in the workplace. The philosophy could be, "As long as I do my job, what I choose to wear should be no big deal." 

I do believe there are dress codes in place in the workplace for a reason and there should be a difference between the way you dress for work and the way you dress at home or when you go to the club.

But on the other hand, maybe these are Millennials who are just starting out and really don't know what dressing to impress means.  They don't know how their attire brands them.  Maybe they don't have the money to afford what is classified as real business attire or maybe they just can't invest because they have other obligations like "family."

Perhaps being an aging baby boomer has turned me into an old-fashioned, judgmental cynic who is trying to raise everyone else's dress code standards based on my own.  After all, I've been in the workforce more nearly 40 years so I ought to know a thing or two about dressing to impress, right?  

Whatever else we think about dressing for success, we need to be reminded that first impressions are everything, and we only get one chance to make a positive first impression.