Ever notice that business is getting more and more casual? I certainly have. Dress codes have been relaxed almost to the point of “please just wear clothing”. That’s okay – the more latitude you give people, the more ability you give them to differentiate themselves. That’s one of the main reasons I love to wear a very formal business suit on things like customer visits and on stage, complete with the seemingly unnecessary necktie. It’s a differentiator as more people get more casual.
There’s an even more esoteric reason for doing so beyond surface appearances. I wear a suit not to change other people’s minds, but to change my own mind. What we’re wearing is a subtle subconscious cue to ourselves about what it is we’re supposed to be doing. Ever put on your favorite workout clothes just around the house and find yourself humming a tune from your favorite workout mix? I certainly have. That clothing brought up a series of memories and associations in my mind. When I tie on the black cloth sash that’s part of my martial arts uniform, it puts me in a very different frame of mind and makes me feel more in the moment.
Likewise, when I wear a business suit, it sends a subtle mental reminder that I’m changing personas, that I’m to be even more mindful of what I say, how I say it, and what my thoughts, words, and actions should be working to achieve. Wearing a suit creates that mindset, almost a different personality. I associate that feeling with the goals I’m trying to achieve.
You can, of course, accomplish any of these mindsets without the use of a suit or any clothing outfit. We learn all the time to associate different objects and items in our lives with different mindsets. You might have a “good luck charm” that you carry or wear on business appointments, or a certain routine that you prefer to do. Wearing full business dress is just a convenient way to constantly reinforce that reminder because we are literally wrapped in it.
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This was kind of a breakthrough post for me! I tend to dress more “business casual” or “business tech” when I speak so I think I will try stepping it up a bit and see if it ups my game. Thank you, Chris! Your blog is the one I read most intently. You are freakin’ brilliant 🙂
This is so true! I had such a hard time wearing jeans on Fridays when I first started working years ago. My boss would say ‘wear jeans! you are making the rest of us uncomfortable just looking at you’. I just couldnt get into that ‘work mode’ when I wore jeans because I felt too relaxed. I dont wear suits but I do dress dressy when I go to work (and even when I work from home). Just helps me focus.
Look sharp, think sharp, Chris Penn.
When I put on a suit I hope others will think I know what I’m doing.
When I put on a suit and tie I’m afraid other will think that I think I know what I’m doing.
Harder to say no to a man in a suit. Or that’s how my wedding went. 😉
I really liked this post. Too often people forget that their own attitude transmit to their audience. You have to constantly think about what state you are in (to get all metaphysical) what vibrations you are sending out. If a suit helps, go for it.
I wear red shoes when I’m speaking in front of a group/audience. It’s a mental confidence booster for me, and my intention is that it speaks to the audience of my independent thinking.