dressing the part

I make more money than you.
Monday morning, 7:30am. Guess I drank enough water last night to offset the 12-year scotch that coursed through my system as I finished up and published Monday’s entry, ’cause I feel fresh as a daisy. I’m not a fan of liquor by any stretch, and a “scotch on the rocks” is probably the last drink I’d order by choice. Changing subjects, in her haste to leave this morning, Sharaun grabbed my keys on her way out the door – her own keys being in her purse, which she also took. This leaves me keyless. No way to start my car to get to work, no way to get back in the house once I’ve locked the door behind me. Luckily, there are enough folks who work with me that live near here that it’s not hard to score a ride in. It’s kinda nice, sitting here in the air conditioning, listening to some vintage Cure… almost makes me wish I was friendless and had no one to call to get into work.

Lemme hit you with a quandary I’ve been thinkin’ on the past couple weeks. I’ve been thinking lately about “dressing the part” at work. What I mean is, changing the way I dress to be more in-line with my newly bestowed responsibilities. Using my acute sense of perception, I’ve noticed that most “bigwigs” at work wear decent looking slacks and shirts most of the time. So, while I hate “dressing up,” I’ve been considering changing my daily uniform to something more becoming a “manager,” junior or not. I’m not talking long-sleeves and ties or anything, just something a tad “dressier.” I’m even willing to make the long-pants-in-summer sacrifice for this, that’s how much I’ve debated it. Problem is, I’m torn about actually doing it… being able to see it from two totally different angles…

Part of me thinks this is very logical, something that I should definitely do. I think of a new-hire, fresh out of college, and their 1st impression of me should I be appointed their manager. Here’s a junior manager, wearing shorts, sneakers, and a t-shirt. Is he going to respect me more or less than a junior manager who’s sharply dressed in slacks and a nice polo shirt? As judging-a-book-by-its-cover as it sounds, I think the clothes do manage to communicate some sense of professionalism – lending some “cred” to the manager title. Not saying you can’t be #1 stellar manager in shorts and a ballcap, but I also think that dressing the part may help me actually act the part. Odd as that sounds, when I’m dressed up I feel more important and actually act a little more professional. After all, the saying “The clothes make the man” must exists for a reason.

While part of me does see logic in it, another part of me sees the idea as horribly pretentious. Young snot makes good and all the sudden starts dressing like he’s hot shit. I don’t want that at all. Heck, there are people twice my age who’ve worked here three times as long as I have – and here I go getting some minuscule promotion and start dressing like CEO or something. There’s got to be a happy medium between the two extremes. I’ve considered “breaking in” the new look: starting with one day a week, maybe bumping that to two or three after people warm up to the new duds. I’ve set myself up really, since going from my daily vestments of today to Dockers and buttons each day would be a pretty evident change. What a silly thing to worry about, right? You’d think, but it’s been on my mind of late.

I love the new look of audioscrobbler, or last fm or whatever it’s called now. It’s actually a really cool site. My profile’s been linked in my sidebar for a while now, and I’ve been aggregating stats on my listening habits for a little over two months now. I hope the service stays free; it’d be interesting to go back over a year and see if my listening habits line up with what I say the choice albums were for that year. Right now the “overall” charts look pretty accurate for what I’ve been digging the past couple months. We’ll see.


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2 Replies to “dressing the part”

  1. My two cents…

    Not attempting to sound pretentious myself, I too had noticed that even first line managers and above seemingly have banded together and defined a dress code. This was before I had joined the ranks myself, but it was a passing thought. And when I really thought about it in my own head, I envisioned this dress code to typically be some kind of polo shirt (with embroidered company logos) and slacks. This was all a theory that I had conjured in my head really – not an empirical study. And so I began to consciously observe the actual dressing habits of my fellow employee managers. What I actually observed was very different from what I had previously assumed. Most of the managers were wearing just the same types of clothes everyone else was wearing. And for some reason, I was only noticing the difference on particular days when they were “dressed up”. Now, those instances of managers dressing up are probably more frequent then those of your individual employee. But that’s the nature of the job. Managers are often presenting information to their managers and their manager’s manager and so on. And you don’t want to look like a slob when you’re addressing the upper-crust.

    So I guess what I’m saying is – dress for the occasion, not the position.

    Hope this helps.

  2. “…dress for the occasion, not the position.”

    I’d actually tend to disagree with this statement; but I come from the world of bueracratic a-holes with a very old school mentality. The rule of thumb is to always dress one level (or half a level, if that were possible) above your current position. In old school business psycho babble, the theory is that the person who is playing the part as if they were a level ahead will be the first in line for promotions.

    However, given that as a new manager, you are already completely overwhelmed with work, this may work against you 🙂 And, since your company has a different culture than the “stiff business world” I speak of, you may want to step it down a notch. Regardless, the manner of your dress will affect the way subordinates act towards you and think of you. I’m not suggesting a 3-piece suit and tie, but it might be a good investment to stock up on some “dressier” polo shirts to add to your collection.

    Just my 2.5 cents (the extra 0.5 cent is because mine’s worth more than ben’s)…

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