Is the person in a suit always the boss?
Apr 8 - 2019
The symbol of power and success has perhaps historically been attributed to those who are wearing the finest suit. The more luxurious, the more seniority or wealth the person has… But no longer is this the case.
I recently came across a picture of a t-shirt, which had on the back of it one of the best quotes I have ever seen. Yes, it is a little extreme and tongue in cheek, but I do think the underlying tone of it hits the nail on the head for the modern world.
People in suits look really successful until…. You find out they work for the person in sweats
With the exception of those who require a uniform or other form of PPE for their role, I have always had a very simple view on office attire. If your job consists of working in an office environment, corporate or otherwise, why do you have to wear an uncomfortable suit! Comfort breeds productivity, so why not embrace comfort in place of the out-dated suit and tie! For some, this comfort may well come from wearing a suit, and fair play to those people – but I for one, HATE wearing suits.
Back in the 50’s, everyone wore a suit (at least all Men did back then), a smart suit and a pocket watch for the wealthy, a slightly more tatty suit for the poorer of society – for business or otherwise, the Suit was the trend of the era. In the modern world, who honestly wears a suit for leisure, going shopping or going out for a meal. Times have changed, and clearly as has fashion. With this, we must also change our view on work attire and the stereotype of suit-wearers…
Suit… or Flip-flops?
Whilst I do admit I am perhaps one of the more extreme with my view on ‘suit wearing’ and as you can see from this picture, I didn’t even wear one at my own wedding day! (Shorts, flip-flops and a shirt were the uniform of the day) – I do feel I can justify my view quite simply.
Firstly, I would make clear that my personal ‘threshold’ for suit wearing is limited to a small number of scenarios, which are principally; weddings (other peoples), funerals and any presence in Court. One particular point ‘of note’ is that in all of these scenarios, I would not be wearing a suit for my benefit – but for the benefit of others. This is a critical point when it comes to the ‘obligation’ for suit wearing and how appropriate it is in modern times.
Interestingly, my Wife, a Solicitor, wears a suit every day and not only does she have an obligation to do so, she actually enjoys it – and that is absolutely fair enough. If you are someone who enjoys wearing a suit, go for it! But if you don’t (like me) why put yourself through the uncomfortable experience of doing so?
I know there are various views on the ‘suit wearing’ issue, even amongst the most high-profile of business-people. Peter Jones wouldn’t be seen dead in a business environment without his best, perfectly tailored suit. Richard Branson on the other hand is clearly on my page with this! Some extremes of the view can also be seen with the likes of Richard Reed’s Innocent Drinks company, who actively encourage people to come to work in their pyjamas and dressing gown, if this is what they want to wear to be comfortable.
At Jigsaw, we have a simple policy. In our office, you can wear whatever you want (providing it is not offensive), however for those working on our Ambulances, quite clearly it has to be uniform and PPE (but even then, we make it as comfortable as possible). If our team are out meeting Clients in their corporate environment, it has to be respectful of this, but a suit is not expected or mandatory. I personally go for Jeans and either a shirt and a jacket, or a branded T-Shirt – but NEVER a suit. I don’t like them, I don’t feel comfortable in them, so why would I expect myself to perform well when wearing one… and if that is my view, how can I expect anyone else to do anything different. Furthermore, why would I? – I want the best from my team and to do that, they need to feel comfortable.
Ultimately, my view is that people should wear what they feel most comfortable in!