Who likes wearing suits?

suitWho likes wearing suits?

I know I don’t. Most people I ask this question to usually agree with me. Yet many get up every morning and put on a suit—or some another type of formal, restrictive clothing.

Why?

Suits were once synonymous with wealth and success. Now we have companies with no or minimal dress codes that are just as or more successful as the oldest and most buttoned-up corporations. So why haven’t people at the corporate top—who I imagine also hate wearing suits every day—overwhelmingly changed this outdated signifier of what it means to be successful and productive?

Probably because it isn’t about the suits. Our corporate/success dress code is really about the constrictive routines we fall into. Instead of opening up offices to true innovation, we fall back into old patterns because it’s easier than sticking our neck out on a new idea. Instead of trying things like flexible work time, extended family leave, less hierarchical management structures, or revised dress codes, organizations (particularly large ones) tend to rely on what they know.

And we suffer the consequences. Innovation and new thinking drives growth, and it’s difficult to be open and collaborative in a constrictive environment. Allowing employees to set their own boundaries and to pursue their own ideas within the parameters of organizational goals will only help the organization in the long run. If they want to wear suits to work—great. If they want to wear old Led Zeppelin t-shirts, who cares? As long as they keep driving co-workers and the organization forward with new ideas, what does it matter?

So will we ever see the death of the suit? Probably not, but we will see it lose its prominence in the collective cultural unconscious as our society becomes more open and collaborative, and we disassociate success with constrictive standardization.

And good riddance, too.

Photo credit: bagsgroove

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