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Why a tie?

I started wearing a tie to work in late February of 2013 and people are commenting, but not asking. So far only one person has asked me why I was wearing the tie. What is interesting is who asked me. The General Manager of my business unit, in other terms basically the brand president. Given how often he and I are in the office at the same time, he at first thought it was just that I had a client meeting.

I had just changed roles in the company, but he knew that wasn’t a reason for the change as the division has the same basic dress code. So the question was “Dude, why are you wearing a tie?”

The answer can be fairly simple of “Dress for the job you want.” I thought showing up as The Dark Knight Batman could be a little awkward. The better answer is multifaceted and has personal and professional overtones but figure you as my loyal reader would want to know the story.

Over the past year I have put on weight as my exercise fell in to oblivion. I got squishy and my clothes became unflattering. That kind of becomes a circle of feed back. So I finally decided to stop the loop and purchased more flattering clothes. I liked the idea of a tie to allow some expression and style.

I had a day at the office that I knew was going to require heightened focus, so I figured follow the cliche of dress for success. It worked better than I thought. I was pleasantly surprised when I found I had time for my usual Starbucks break midday and still left on time. I tried it a few more times and it worked very well.

So my answer to the GM, “it helps me get more done and people treat me more seriously. I also want to continue growing.” He was supportive and chuckled about the Batman comment.

A friend of mine has an aphorism of “Assume the virtue”. I think that sums it up. I assume the virtue of valuable employee by putting on the work costume, the more formal clothes. It allows me to both focus on work and also allow me to leave work more easily. Not just physically, but mentally as well. When I loosen the tie, I loosen up as well and work is done.

I did not realize how much the change had happened until about a week ago. I had to do remote support for an audio installation on the weekend. I could have done it at home, but I decided to go into the office. I still dressed for work, not the full work costume but still casual Friday level. After the session I was able to go home and change clothes and leave work behind for the short weekend.

Assume the virtue my friends. Give it a try, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.


  1. Bradford, While I suspect neither of us will ever achieve the style and Suave of Matt Scott and his hair but dressing for success, for lack of a better turn of phrase, is something my father imparted to me early and often. My Father was a cop for 25 years and I recall our conversations as he ironed his uniform for work or his deflecting my teenage commentary on his ‘day’ clothes with asides on how one should present oneself. He taught me that I should always dress for the job I want (within reason ) not the job I had.

    When I made the transition from the rough and tumble event staging field into a corporate office I dressed the “business casual” dictated by those around me. Most of my staff wore polo / Izod shirts with Jeans and sneakers. As a manager I was only distinguished in dress by my Khakis rather than the ubiquitous jeans. The engineers were even worse – often in ragged thin t-shirts and jeans which looked like they had been picked from the dirty pile at home (90% chance this was exactly it, not ‘style’.). Tech support is a thankless job and the staff suffered not only from a form of beat down from the clients, they also had executives brow beating them for not being a source of profit.

    At some point I decided to make use of my proper collared shirts and Ties with the conscience effort of simultaneously projection authority and letting my staff that I think my job (and theirs) deserved such respect. It took a few months but slowly but surely a good portion of the staff began to start dressing up in khakis rather than jeans and ties started to appear on the men. With this also came a noticeable change in demeanor and when it was apparent that the trend was not going away, I saw an increase in respect and acceptance of authority by executive level folks. I am not sure that these folks entirely understood the change or their respectful interactions – but i think it started with dressing better.

    To be sure doing this can be become a second job. Even if you are not following the latest trends or fashion forward commentators dressing up for work is a lot like women applying makeup – you feel better but it takes time – lots of time with choosing, ironing, etc- out of your day and you have to make time for it. time you used to spend sleeping, eating, writing or anything else. My answer was to dress all in black from head to toe at every layer, something my wife has worked to break me of for 14 years.

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