Many jobs require that their employees wear similar clothes and in some cases an actual uniform. Policemen wear their blues. Doctors wear that white lab coat and a tie. Nurses typically scrubs. NFL, MLB, and NHL players were a literal uniform. This year the NBA season is basically done, so their uniform is full body tattoo.
Even many non-professional jobs have uniforms. Lifeguards – the red swimsuits. That guy at the local Jiffy-Lube – grease stained, polyester shirt and gray pants. Even the girl at the mall working at Hot Dog on a Stick has a uniform.(Editorial note: Pretty sure I would’ve OD’d on hot dogs if the girls at the mall where I was growing up looked like this.)
Many people think that through the years corporate jobs haven’t had a uniform. That’s not necessarily true. Just take a look at any episode of Mad Men. The dark monochrome suit, white shirt and black tie is standard. Oddly enough the old “IBM uniform” was remarkably similar to the Mad Men uniform. Through the 80’s and early 90’s many in early cubeland had a uni made up of khaki’s and a blue button-down dress shirt.
And, while these aren’t really corporate uniforms, people like Mark Zuckerberg in his jeans, t-shirt and zip down hoodie, and the late great Steve Jobs in his jeans and black turtleneck, embodied a daily standard uniform look.
Me on the other hand, I try to avoid the corporate uniform look at all costs. Some days I dress up. Some days I go casual. To me it’s all about being comfortable while looking good.
You see despite what people say, I do believe you are judged by how you look. Wear a nice, fashionable, clean, ironed outfit that doesn’t look like you are going to or coming from a night club – you’ve got potential. You’ve got options. You just might be moving up.
The other side of the coin – wear jeans, Birkenstock’s and a sweatshirt of your favorite hockey team? No way you are going to become a manager in the company I work for. (Side note: I’m a firm believer that you probably are more productive in your sweat pants and hoodie sitting on the sofa than you are in a Med Men outfit in your cube. But, you need to play the game in order to move ahead).
There is, however, one part of the game I’m not into. Actually, I despise it. It’s the corporate, technology industry, cubeland, Silicon Valley look.
The Company Logo Shirt.
Why you may ask? Generally these were a product of the the tech industry. A Silicon Valley staple. A reward for being part of the team, for participating in the ’96 Sales Kick Off meeting and surviving the 4 days of eating chicken and rice pilaf buffet style without having serious digestive issues.
Some however seem to wear these corporate versions of the”I showed up to collect my participation award” on a daily basis.
My HR nightmare, company cheerleader, co-worker George is a logo shirt lover. Every company has a George. Mine, just happens to sit about 15 feet away. You see, 4 out of 5 days a week he wears these shirts. You see these are the clothing version of an ass kiss. And, in my company we don’t believe in the basic black or white polo with logo. No, see our company color is purple. Yes, purple. The color made famous by Tinky Winky.
What makes this worse, well George is, ummm, let’s just say not svelte. To save you a trip to the great “What the F does that mean?” Google site, let’s just say he’s not slender. He’s the male equivalent of, “Holy crap, are you having triplets?”
Purple company polo shirt. Purple company t-shirt. Purple company turtleneck. Shit George probably has purple underwear on. And, I freaking pray no one can confirm this. I’ve seen so much purple in the past couple years that I vow to never have a PB&J with grape jelly again. EVER!
Is George is a corporate ass kisser or is it that his wife won’t allow him to get non-Garaminals clothes? (Hint, it’s both).
Actually, it doesn’t matter. You see, if you wear corporate clothes almost every day you are typecasting yourself. And, that role is not one of an upwardly mobile, increasing title, valued employee. The role you play is one of “yes person”. Yes, I will do anything you ask. Yes, my opinion is set by Marcom’s Message of the Quarter. Yes, my wife won’t give me a real clothing allowance. Yes, I am a tool.
There is a time and a place for the company logo stuff. But, it is not daily. Like it or not, right or wrong, you are judged by your looks. I for one enjoy looking good. Looking different from the the dude in cube 8, aisle 4 on floor 1.
Futile or not, I am going to dress with the idea that one day, I will get an office and that cute assistant.
Who are you? Are you dressing to move ahead or are you dressing to be in he cubicle boy band?