Published by Chris Daems on 17 January 2013 in Business

Suits, Jeans and the concept of ‘permanent dress down’.

I had a strange thought the other day.  I realised that if I took all the hours I’d been awake between when I started my career (at 18) up to now (at 35) I’d spent more time in a suit than any other item of clothing.  If we ignore leap years but take into account wearing casual clothes at weekends on holiday and in the evening I’ve estimated that I’ve spent around 3859 days (out of 6205) wearing a suit….but obviously not the same one!

I haven’t got much imagination when it comes to clothing.  For work wear it’s white shirts from M&S and suits from TM Lewin and for casual clothes it’s a polo shirt and jeans usually.  However a recent conversation with an accountant introducer of mine gave me an interesting idea.

This accountant, let’s call him Clive (because actually, that’s his name) is adopting a new approach in his office.  He has decided that every day is dress down day!  Although he has minimum standards him and his staff can wear whatever they want.  Whilst this is a practice many of us in professional practices adopt when not seeing clients he has decided to take it one step further….he had decided to keep a casual dress code when seeing both existing or new clients.

For Clive’s existing clients this isn’t really a problem.  They know and value the quality of his work and are not concerned about whether Clive is wearing a suit, jeans and a t shirt or a tutu (I don’t think he’d go for the last option).  However does this create the right impression when seeing new clients?

I’m undecided on the right approach.  If a new accountant or lawyer turned up for a meeting with you in jeans and a t shirt would you be more or less likely to appoint?  Would the accountant wearing jeans be automatically better or worse than the accountant wearing a suit?  When appointing professionals do you think that making a judgement on what they wear is superficial?  or alternatively do you think it’s an indication of an individual who has made an effort to look smart and therefore deserves credit?

There is an argument to say that Clive’s actions may make him stand out for the crowd and may help him continue to build his business.  Also, for many of us, it’s an ‘affordable experiment’.  I’m not sure about your existing clients but I very much doubt I’d lose any clients for turning up in a pair of jeans and a polo shirt!

For now, it’s not an experiment I’m not going to adopt within my practice but would absolutely consider for the future.  However I’m more interested in what you think?  Does it matter what you wear?  Would you ever adopt a more casual approach to clothes in your office?

As ever I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts….

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