I love the fact that at some point almost every industry decided that it was mostly stupid to wear suits and ties and dresses to work. Even more, Business Casual has mostly died out as well.
I can’t tell you how many F500 organizations I go into where the head of HR or head of Talent is wearing jeans. At my company we went casual pretty late, primarily because we are a service organization and we match that dress of our clients we go to visit.
You’ve probably seen some of these sayings going around social media:
- There was a day when you picked up your child for the last time. You didn’t know it the time, but you’ll never pick them up again.
- There was a day when you went outside to play with your friends. You didn’t know it at the time, but you never went out again to play.
We do a ton of stuff then one day we stop doing it and we don’t even realize it. I like to think that’s what happened to Casual Fridays.
For the longest time Casual Fridays were the thing! Some companies used them as motivation, some used them as charity vehicles to raise money for great causes, etc. Then one day, every day was casual and we no longer needed Casual Friday.
I’m not 100% sold that being casual at work all the time is the answer and there is some growing research that says the same thing. There are certain times when dressing up puts you in a better psychological state of mind!
In the study, The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing, researchers found that when a person puts on formal clothing (business formal, not wedding formal) our brain gets us to believe we are better than maybe we really are!
When wearing formal business clothing we tend to do certain things better, like negotiating. If you were going to close a deal with a big client, it’s best you don’t show up in jeans and a hoodie, even if those you’ll be negotiating with will be. In fact, you’ll have an advantage over them if you did show up fully suited up!
Billionaire, Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA Mavericks recently shared a post he wrote in 2007, doubling down on his belief we should never wear suits and he says he only does, to this day, for weddings and funerals.
Mark doesn’t believe in the psychological impact of wearing a suit and tie (despite what the research says) and believes letting your employees be casual is the way to go. Since his post in 2007, I would dare to say 100% of tech companies are casual!
I’ve worked in a business that went from a formal dress code, to a business casual dress code, to a casual dress code. I’m not sure I can tell you one made a difference over another.
I know from a client relationship standpoint when I was in formal clothing, clients felt a little uncomfortable when I was dressed up and they weren’t. But, those same clients when I was meeting them for the first time knew I looked at their business with the utmost importance. Once the relationship was established, I’m sure they felt more at ease when I showed up looking like they did.
From an employment brand standpoint I never understood the large organizations where they executives still wear suit and tie but the rank and file are casual. But I feel the same way about coaches on sidelines wearing suits, or even politicians. There is definitely a psychological power play with all of these.
So, raise one up for Casual Fridays or pour one out or whatever it is you do when something you’ve known for so long dies. Casual Fridays, you’ll be remembered well, or at least remembered as ‘why the hell did we do that?”