Friday, February 11, 2011

Are Suits at Work on The Way Out

In a word, yes. 

We have all noticed it for years.  First it was dress down or casual friday.  Then it was the general trending toward a casual work week.  After all, are we hiring a wardrobe or are we hiring a mind? 

For the most part, its a What Ever It Takes attitude.  In the case of a suit, they're damn uncomfortable.  Many offices are simply too warm to wear a jacket, so for years, the first thing you would do is hang the suit jacket on the back of the door, or the chair or on the cube wall.   Then it rapidly became acceptable to go chinos and polo shirt at work unless you're off to meet customers.

Even the customers would scratch your head if after the first couple visits on a "steady client call" you came in dressed in a suit.

I have a grey suit that I have had for years now.  Embarrassingly long time, but luckily I've been able to hang onto it since I've been told I look good in it.  I wore it to Pat's Wedding so many years ago, and it may be more than 20 years old.  The thing is that the only place I have felt comfortable wearing a suit is to a Funeral, Wedding, or Interview.  For the most part, it hangs there in the bedroom closet with a silent "Send Me In Coach!" for when it's needed.

With the general trend of offices going more casual, you can spot the prospective hire, the sales force, and the newbies.  I found it amusing when I walked into a shiny office block for an interview on Cypress Creek that I overheard a comment.  Being 6' 4" tall and physically imposing, I have The Look.  My friend and former programmer once called it a "Command Presence".  This is a look that I am conscious of and I try to tone it down sometimes.  That one particular day was a cool day for Florida, the sun was out in force, there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  I had on my backup mirrored sunglasses as I walked into the building with black portfolio in hand.

One rather pretty woman said to her companion in front of the building: "Hey, do you think we are being raided?"

Now what would you say to something like that?

I looked over, said "Yes." and kept walking.

They packed up and left that particular spot from in front of the building like they were shot out of a cannon.

The interview went well, I started up a relationship with a recruiter and have maintained it for the last couple years.  I walked into that interview amused and was wondering if I wasn't overprepared.  They didn't think so and laughed with me when I told that story.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I had an interview with a small company in downtown Fort Lauderdale.  I sat in their waiting room for about 15 minutes thinking of that story and wondering whether I was prepared and qualified.  I was.  I concluded that I was the outsider ready to make a good impression (I did) and that the existing staff were dressed comfortably.  I should relax.

Another person came walking in and sat down beginning to fill out the application that I had just finished and was dressed just as I was.  Him in his blue suit, me in my trusty old grey one.  We looked like high end security, but it was appropriate.

I guess who ever lands that job will get new chinos and a polo shirt and start work.   At least I still fit in my chinos... or at least I will when I lose another five pounds...

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