I recently saw a French movie on Austrian television (disclosure: I am French and I live in Vienna, Austria). It’s not the movie of the century but still a pretty funny one.
Why am I talking about that movie?
In it, there is a scene where the 2 main characters disturb a business meeting. Their irruption is the occasion for 1 of the character to highlight that they, the meeting participants, all look the same. All dressed in suits with the same tone: various shades of grey!
Why should business people be men in black?
Besides the fact that most people in business are men and white, they also all dress the same! Ever googled “executive committee pictures” or “business attire”? Try it! This is especially true for consultants & sales people… Grey, grey, black, grey… for the suits. White, white, white… for the shirts.
The problem is not the dress… It’s uniformity!
I have nothing against suits, although I prefer “not matching blazers and pants”. I like to dress well too (note that I wrote “well” to describe the kind of attire that are: suits or blazers; like the rest is not “good”…). The thing is that certain occasions, and a business meeting is one, require that you dress up. This is to show respect to the people you meet and mark that the context is… business. The problem is that grey/black suits have become the business uniform; the default for all and for everyday. Uniforms have a purpose and I do not see how that fits with business.
The problem is not the dress… It’s laziness!
I believe that most people who dress in the “business uniform” do it because they’re lazy. Lazy to find other options. Much easier to go in a shop and get the first grey suit they see than looking for other options or finding their own style. Lazyness of daring to be different: it’s much easier to hide in a crowd in uniform!
The problem is not the dress… It’s the hypocrisy!
I believe that most people who dress in the “business uniform” actually hate suits! Which also explains the laziness… This hypocrisy is even worse when you look at some of the business icons of the last years… Many of them are also known for NOT wearing suits at all.
Is that the meaning of business? Is that the culture of business? Is that what you want from your job or career? Looking like the person next to you? Looking like interchangeable?
With the risk of being put in the category of mad men, I think we, business people, should dare to:
- Be remarkable & be a purple cow.
- Be hated if need to be.
- Be true to ourself.
- Be our brand.
- Be aware and respectful of context.
- Be clever.
P.S.: if grey/dark suits are your style/thing and wearing them is a conscious decision, then wear’em!