Suit Yourself: Standing Out in a Casual Marketplace

Let’s take it back to the 90s! There’s no doubt that a lot has changed since VHS cassette tapes (“be kind, rewind”), fax machines, and Palm Pilots. Many of these changes have positively impacted the world we live and do business in. There is one thing, that without a doubt, has had a massive change in business…. Attire! In the mid-90s every company had a dress code and most everyone dressed up! Dressing in a suit and tie or a dress and closed-toe heels was the status quo in business. The first thing I did after college graduation (and of course celebrations) was go to Dayton’s to buy a bunch of ties.

Over the last 20-some years business attire has changed for most companies. In many cases it has gone from a formal environment to ultra-casual. Today it’s not uncommon to walk through a professional company where employees are dressed in shorts or capris, flip-flops and hoodies. Even traditional corporate environments like Goldman Sachs that had a stiff business formal dress code forever, has gone casual.

I’ll preface the rest by saying I am not against casual attire and being comfortable while you work. I have, however, found that dressing up can be a major differentiator in a casual marketplace. Whether you’re branding your business or building your personal brand and resume, finding your differentiation is crucial!

Candidates and consultants often ask us, “How can I stand out amongst my competition?” One recommendation that I have, and sometimes feel it’s a given, is to dress up. This recommendation holds especially true during interviewing. An article, “Why ‘Dress for Success’ Still Matters (Perhaps More than Ever), exclaims, “It’s vital to give off your best impression in every way possible, so that no one can hold shallow biases against you. Let nothing stand in the way of paving your road to success.” You only get one chance to make a first impression and there’s no doubt that it’s better to be remembered as the guy/gal in a suit, versus the opposite.

Furthermore, based off the finding from a Social Psychological and Personality Science study, Reader’s Digest exclaims “In addition to feeling more powerful, the study found the subjects who dressed in business formal clothing could think faster on their feet and had more creative ideas.” We’ve witnessed this firsthand here at Q Consulting where we dress up 4 days per week. We’ve found that our professional attire has an impact on our mindset and allows us to focus on doing what we do best: delivering EXCELLENCE! At times our “more formal than most” approach may be considered stiff, but as a team we take pride in dressing up, showing up, and standing out in the marketplace for doing so.

At the end of the day, who doesn’t love casual attire? I know I do! In the same breath, I also value standing out in a casual business environment and differentiating myself and Q through doing so. In such a competitive marketplace and business, anything you can do to stand out will only be beneficial to your success. If you’re looking to project professionalism, do yourself a favor and dress for success!

Let’s take it back to the old school….