Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ditch the Suit

There's an immediate transformation when a guy wears a suit. He suddenly feels smarter, richer, more powerful and more appealing. If you've got a corporate meeting, job interview, wedding or funeral to attend to or dinner date at a fancy restaurant, chances are you'll be wearing a well-tailored suit or a tuxedo.

   But I'll be honest, I hate suits. They're pricey, boring, uncomfortable, stressful to shop for, and I feel like a total geek whenever I have to wear one. The first and last suit I bought was because I had to –  a requirement to join a Mad Men-inspired party. Luckily people here in the Philippines are casual. And it's too hot for a suit, anyway. For special occasions, we prefer the Barong – a lightweight embroidered formal shirt more suited to the climate.

   Five years ago I had to travel to Cebu for a major trade show, and I was suddenly surrounded by Don Draper–ish executives. Nearly everyone was wearing a perfectly pressed suit and tie, except the pretty models hired to show a little skin and attract people to the boobs booths.

   Exactly what purpose does a suit serve? Sure, there are advantages: ladies assume that you're educated, well-off, and a great catch, but I just really can't stand wearing them. When you sound smart you sound smart no matter what you put on, but when you don't know what you're talking about you sound worse with a suit on. My mood and productivity is highly affected by the clothes I wear, and I feel comfortable in jeans, t-shirts (sometimes button-up shirts) and sneakers.

   Here's an interesting excerpt from Mark Cuban's blog (yes, that billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner) on why he decided to ditch the suit:

"Why in the world are so many people required to wear a suit to work? Do the clothes make the man or woman in the western world today? Does wearing a tie make us work harder or smarter? Is this a conspiracy by the clothing, fabric or dry cleaning industry to take our money?
Now I understand some people think wearing a suit provides them with a certain level of stature. It gives them confidence. It helps them feel good about themselves. Well let me be the first to tell you that if you feel like you need a suit to gain that confidence, you got problems. The minute you open your mouth, all those people who might think you have a great suit, forget about the suit and have to deal with the person wearing it.
Is there a reason other than "thats just the way it is"? Haven't you looked at someone in a suit, trying to look important and just thought how stupid and out of place it is? Why do we do this to ourselves?
I know this all is a crazy rant, but come on now. If you have had to wear a suit to work every day, haven't you wondered why? If you are the CEO or in charge of a company, haven't you wondered yourself why you are making your employees waste all that money and come to work and spend the day in uncomfortable clothing?
Give your suit wearing employees a raise. Tell them every day is casual day."

   Cuban wears what feels good, which means t-shirts and jeans most of the time. The late, great Steve Jobs wore the same attire every day for most of his career at Apple: a black mock turtleneck, blue jeans and New Balance sneakers. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dons the same gray T-shirt at most public events. So, if these men didn't let a suit get in the way of their success, do the rest of us need to?

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