Author Topic: What would MMM wear to work?  (Read 13489 times)

eldub

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What would MMM wear to work?
« on: October 29, 2012, 10:34:06 AM »
My work wardrobe: it's something I've been mulling over lately. I'm inclined to think that I should be judged on the degree of professionalism in my work, and not in my appearance. Yet I acknowledge that there are those around (and above) me at work that aren't as enlightened. I'm not a slob by any means, but you might confuse me with a college kid some days. As an aspiring mustachian, I don't prioritize clothing too much in the budget. I mostly rotate a few outfits. SAME SHOES EVERY DAY.

This has always been just fine to me. Now I've started to wonder, is this approach maybe a bit shortsighted? Could I be hurting my chances for advancement, thereby delaying early retirement? Should I spend more now on clothing in the hopes that it will pay off in a larger income one day?

Or should I continue to say "F.U." to people who think my ability to do good work is tied to my ability to spend money on clothing?

Yes, I realize there is a whole lot out there about dressing nice on a budget (invest in classics, change out the accessories, etc), but I am more interested in your thoughts on essentially this: Should I consider playing their game (i.e beefing up the professional wardrobe) in order to beat them at it (i.e. get higher-paying gig and then laughing all the way to the bank?

What say the mustachians?

 

Done by Forty

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2012, 10:45:06 AM »
I think your suspicions may be right: co-workers and leaders are only human, and we're all probably swayed by appearance more than we'd like to admit.  A few judicious purchases from a consignment or used clothing shop might pay huge dividends.  They may not, of course -- we'll never really know the full  reasons we get promotions, raises, etc. 

jp

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2012, 10:59:13 AM »
My work wardrobe: it's something I've been mulling over lately. I'm inclined to think that I should be judged on the degree of professionalism in my work, and not in my appearance. Yet I acknowledge that there are those around (and above) me at work that aren't as enlightened. I'm not a slob by any means, but you might confuse me with a college kid some days. As an aspiring mustachian, I don't prioritize clothing too much in the budget. I mostly rotate a few outfits. SAME SHOES EVERY DAY.


I don't think khakis and a decent button up cost more than cargo shorts and a tshirt.  The cost to dress appropriately for work is the same as the inappropriate dress.  You have to pay more for perceived quality or name brands, but I really don't think people take that into consideration too much in most circles.  The only issue is whether you are dressing appropriately and whether you are seen as sloppy.

Mrs MM

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2012, 11:30:40 AM »
Often people are so worried about themselves that they won't notice if you wear the same shoes every day.  I probably wouldn't notice.  Most men don't even notice if I hack my hair off to my chin.  Women might notice if you wear the same shirt every day though.  :) 

I tend to wear the same shoes and rotate out a few pairs of pants and then focus on shirts.  Fancier/nicer shirts will probably make the biggest difference.

Jamesqf

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2012, 11:37:41 AM »
First things first: What do you do?  And what's the clothing culture like where you work?  If you're in say investment banking or corporate law, it's going to be entirely different than if you're in say software development.  (Where if you DON'T come to work in jeans and a t-shirt, you may be suspected of not really being up to snuff technically, and angling for a management job.)

eldub

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2012, 12:45:13 PM »
Excellent point, Mrs. MM - I forgot to factor in people's self-absorption into the equation. This changes everything!

nofool

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2012, 01:15:39 PM »
As a reformed shopaholic who now works in the financial services industry, style has always been important to me, though I'm much more discerning when it comes to my shopping.

Through a well-timed sale, a rewards card, and a friendly relationship with sales associates, I managed to buy nearly my entire professional wardrobe in one shopping trip from Banana Republic for $200. The full retail price of everything was $1050. I also bought my suit from BR for $100 instead of $300. They also threw in some free alterations for me (the main trick to looking put-together is wearing clothes that fit you well).

I always dress for work so that I either match my manager's dressiness or maybe one step below. Personally, I believe it makes a difference in how your higher-ups perceive you when they think about you during your performance review. I think of my wardrobe as an investment.

In my opinion, I think it's worth investing in a few more pieces and definitely at least one more pair of shoes, but be patient in acquiring them. Also, find a great, decently-priced tailor. They are your secret weapon!

okits

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2012, 10:21:18 PM »
First things first: What do you do?  And what's the clothing culture like where you work?  If you're in say investment banking or corporate law, it's going to be entirely different than if you're in say software development.  (Where if you DON'T come to work in jeans and a t-shirt, you may be suspected of not really being up to snuff technically, and angling for a management job.)

Maybe dressing a bit better will pay off in another sense.  I've always thought upping your fashion game gave the suggestion of "I have a job interview".  Especially if you do it noticeably and abruptly.  You say, "oh, this great suit was on sale!" and your company, if they want to keep you, starts mulling, "well maybe we should fork over that raise to keep him/her from jumping ship..."

The context of your job will matter, but in general I think it's probably better to try a bit harder than to let slide a bit more.  Couldn't hurt (whereas being thought of as the college kid has a very real chance of hurting your credibility.)

Will

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2012, 10:40:32 PM »

I don't think khakis and a decent button up cost more than cargo shorts and a tshirt.  The cost to dress appropriately for work is the same as the inappropriate dress.

This is very true.  The last time I was buying clothes (about a year ago) I noticed that very thing:  the nice "dress shirts" cost the same (or even less, in the clearance section) as a tee shirt!  And the "dress pants" were the same price as the cargo shorts.  So I would say the next time you have to buy clothes anyway, buy the stuff that looks nicer and wear that to work. 

palvar

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2012, 08:29:59 AM »
In my opinion, I think it's worth investing in a few more pieces and definitely at least one more pair of shoes, but be patient in acquiring them. Also, find a great, decently-priced tailor. They are your secret weapon!

Tailors are great - they are the real difference between looking good in a shirt/suit and not.

This guy gets by pretty well buying solely from thrift stores: http://www.anaffordablewardrobe.blogspot.com/

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2012, 10:41:44 AM »
Play the game and beat them at it! I see you are already approaching this as a challenge anyway, so why not go for it and see if it makes any difference. Maybe try it as an experiment or a way to get more efficiency from your wardrobe? To step up your game you need mostly research and knowledge about appearance-related matters; some amount of money is required but it is a tiny component of the big picture. And the more you know, the less you'll waste.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2012, 10:43:29 AM by Osprey »

tooqk4u22

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2012, 11:31:17 AM »
Unless you are a "Star" performer then dressing anything less than the bosses is not acceptable if you want to move up or be part of the inner circle. Play the game or not, but don't get upset when the better dressed guy gets the nod over you.

Jamesqf

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2012, 11:53:30 AM »
Unless you are a "Star" performer then dressing anything less than the bosses is not acceptable if you want to move up or be part of the inner circle.

Again, depends on the industry, and the culture of the particular job.  In technical circles, dressing like "the bosses" (though the bosses often don't dress like that) is likely to convince people that you aren't a star performer.

Sparky

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2012, 12:47:10 PM »
"  Re: What would MMM wear to work? "

Something long last and in a classic style.

Honestly, as long as you look decent every day for work, the only person that will criticizes your clothing will be yourself. Think about it, what is your SO/DH/DW/kids wearing right now? I doubt most people could answer this question correctly and we tend to see these people daily on a very personal level, so why worry about work mates?

If your still in doubt about your clothing choices/variety, cycle on over to your local thrift store with 5 dollars and build yourself a new wardrobe. Hell, make it a MMM forum challenge :). I've built several full piece suits  for under 3 dollars each (I toss them after they get dirty; not spending money on dry-cleaning)

 

desrever

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2012, 01:22:32 PM »
From a purely resource-efficiency standard, I've found that shoes (at least leather ones) last longer if you avoid wearing the same pair two days in a row, to give them a chance to completely dry out. From a fashion standpoint there is also something to be said for this approach.

nofool

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2012, 01:41:02 PM »
"  Re: What would MMM wear to work? "
Think about it, what is your SO/DH/DW/kids wearing right now? I doubt most people could answer this question correctly and we tend to see these people daily on a very personal level, so why worry about work mates?
Haha wrong day to ask that question. Not married or in a relationship, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that my roommates are wearing a pirate costume and a stormtrooper costume today. ;)

nofool

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2012, 01:52:58 PM »
From a purely resource-efficiency standard, I've found that shoes (at least leather ones) last longer if you avoid wearing the same pair two days in a row, to give them a chance to completely dry out. From a fashion standpoint there is also something to be said for this approach.

This! So many people don't understand that your clothes (and shoes) need to breathe!

Mrs MM

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2012, 09:41:49 AM »
Excellent point, Mrs. MM - I forgot to factor in people's self-absorption into the equation. This changes everything!

Haha!  I'm glad you've seen the light!  :)

DoubleDown

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2012, 10:40:42 AM »
Absolutely, positively, dress in a professional manner for your workplace, at "one level higher" than your current position. As in, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Unless you are in some kind of creative artist profession, DO NOT challenge the status quo and wear what you want,  just so you're not conforming to "the man's" ideals or expectations.

In a word, it WILL hurt you to dress shabbily or less than expected, and WILL set back your goals of FI unless you have some other master plan for becoming wealthy. On the other hand, looking more professional and put together than your peers (but not ostentatious) will help you excel, whether or not it is right or wrong for society to behave that way.

I'm a manager, and I do not see an employee choosing to dress down as a sign of moxy or independence that I want to promote. I see it as disrespect and/or laziness. Most managers will almost certainly agree.

As others have pointed out, this can all be done inexpensively. Marshall's, Ross, TJ Maxx, Filene's, sales at Macy's, are all your friend. I work in a professional environment, and probably spend no more than $150/year on clothing and shoes, on average. Maybe slightly higher if I need a new suit every couple of years as styles change. Check out a GQ or Esquire magazine at your library, choose a professional look from there, then go buy it inexpensively at inexpensive stores.

mindaugas

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2012, 11:00:13 AM »
I have never been in a thrift store (goodwill, arc, salvation army) that is not filled to the brim with button up shirts and dress pants. Go on a weekend when one of them is having a 50% sale. I've purchased a whole week of clothes for less than $20.

I wear the same shoes and the same jeans each work day, no one has noticed. I work IT so they don't get dirty, I just wash them over the weekend and wear them the next week.

DoubleDown

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2012, 11:23:48 AM »
Oh and as a bonus: Dressing well is also a proven, successful method for attracting positive attention from the opposite sex (or whatever sex is your thing). You will not have the same success in cargo shorts and a ratty t-shirt, guaranteed. So you get a two'fer with the same investment of capital -- career success and success with women (I'm assuming you're a straight male, sorry if my assumption is off). Any of the "how to pick up women" gurus will tell you this.

Actually, there's a third bonus: dressing professionally also makes a huge difference wherever appearance counts, such as negotiating deals. I would NEVER show up to a real estate deal, for example, in my weekend lounging-around-the-house clothes. I show up dressed sharply, like I mean business, because I do mean business. People considering my offer know I'm serious, not some shabby dude who just rolled out of bed and may or may not come through on the deal. Try it sometime you are in a prickly situation like dealing with a merchant when you have a disagreement, or negotiating a deal -- you will be amazed at the different treatment you receive.

I've actually done this as a pseudo-experiment: went to a large store on a weekend dressed in work shorts and a t-shirt, to complain about a legitimate problem with their product, and was turned away with excuses. Went back to the same store the very next day after work dressed in a suit and shaved, and it was all "yes sir, what can we do for you sir, we're very sorry sir, we'll make it up to you sir" from there. They didn't even recognize me/remember me from the day before.

eldub

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2012, 11:25:33 AM »
Ha sorry DoubleDown, actually a straight (and married) woman. Take your point all the same though!

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2012, 01:01:20 PM »
This thread discourages me.  I work in a fancy law firm and everyone wears suits or fancy dresses and really nice shoes.  I look "ok" but not great.  I do notice what people wear too.  If I dress up to their level or a level above me, I will literally not be able to save anything.

grantmeaname

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2012, 01:13:28 PM »
If I dress up to their level or a level above me, I will literally not be able to save anything.
Does New York not have thrift stores or eBay?

kisserofsinners

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2012, 01:18:26 PM »
I wear the same thing everyday and have for quite a while. I also work in service so people see me everyday, too. No one notices and if they do they say nothing.

Often times i find purchases at places like old navy and JCPennies to be great quality and inexpensive. If you want that really tight presentation get the cheaper clothes a little baggy and have them costume tailored. It way cheaper and will give you comparable or better results.

Why would anyone even care if you wear the same shoes everyday? That is weird.

twinge

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2012, 01:19:11 PM »
Quote
Think about it, what is your SO/DH/DW/kids wearing right now? I doubt most people could answer this question correctly and we tend to see these people daily on a very personal level, so why worry about work mates?

Hmmm...I'm not fashion-oriented but as soon as I read this I could recall to the last detail what my husband and 2 kids were wearing and what the 7 different people I had meetings with today were wearing.  So, I'm not convinced that everyone's too self-absorbed to notice.  I don't feel any judgment about these clothes, but then I'm an ENTP so I'm not likely to...

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #26 on: November 02, 2012, 01:19:27 PM »
If I dress up to their level or a level above me, I will literally not be able to save anything.
Does New York not have thrift stores or eBay?

It's the level of brand/dress that I'm having trouble with.  People wear Laboutin's and Barney's suits.

Mrs MM

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #27 on: November 02, 2012, 01:53:48 PM »
Reading this, I find it amazing that people put so much emphasis on looks in our society.  What about actual competency?

I'm not familiar with more fancy areas and most days I wore shorts and flip flops to work in Boulder, but would people really look down on others because they're not wearing brand names?  How can you even tell? 

Everywhere I worked, it didn't matter what people wore or what they looked like.  You knew within a couple of weeks who the slackers were and who the hardworking people were.  You knew who you could trust with a project and who's work you had to check.  There was no correlation between what people wore and how competent they were.

In real estate, there is more emphasis on dressing well.  All the realtors are fancy-shmancy and driving these shiny cars around.  I ride my bike and wear jeans with a nice shirt.  I try to look nice and clean - don't show up in a sweatsuit, but I work hard to get real data for people and understand the house that I will be showing.  I get background information and answer all their questions.  I get back to people right away.  And, you know what?  Nobody has ever cared what I wore or how I got to a showing.  If they did, I made a good enough impression to have them keep using me.  They care about what you say and how you make them feel.   They care about the service you provide and how much you can help them.

If you're healthy, confident, and happy, I guarantee you will look better than everyone else no matter what you're wearing.

Matt F

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #28 on: November 02, 2012, 02:17:11 PM »
Certain job paths really do require first impressions so I understand where you are coming from (Lawyer, Management, Advertising). This post from ASW covers dressy business style basics very well, just do not read the rest of his blog or you will end up with some very antimustachian longings for custom suits http://asuitablewardrobe.dynend.com/2008/02/reader-questions.html  If you are female, you might need to modify a bit, though with the hipster mentality right now, women in suits and oxfords are quite stylish.

NOTE: I would not buy most of the stuff from the places he recommends if you are trying to be thrifty.  Instead, most places with wardrobes like you are talking about are located in cities with awesome annual warehouse/sample sales.  Find out where those are going to be for some good brands, lineup before they open, and only buy things that fit you.  Otherwise look for the sale rack at places like J Crew (guys & girls) Anne Taylor (girls), Ross/TJMax (girls) and check back once a week or so until things get crazy marked down (obviously buy your stuff after the season for that type of clothing ends in the store).

Best way to make cheaper things look expensive is to buy super classic pieces (think, if someone saw me in a black and white picture, could they tell what era I'm from; and if they guessed, you basically want it to be the 1950's), buy them to fit snug or have them tailored that way if the price of the piece is cheap enough when added to tailoring costs vs pieces that do not need to be tailored.  Buy pieces that can be used for multiple things (a classic neutral colored trench coat for guys or girls goes from warm fall day over light clothing to heavy rain to freezing winter night with a sweater under it).  Also, buy one color family and nice pieces (good fabrics last much much longer) but fewer of them (i.e. navy suits/blue shirts/navy tie, or gray suits/white shirts/navy tie).  If you buy a nice memorable statement piece, you cannot wear it very often because everyone remembers it, so you need a lot more pieces (also buy absolutely nothing with an obvious brand name on it, because you probably cant afford to get a real one that will impress anyone and having no obvious brands is a very bold statement for people who are brand obsessed which should score you some points).

Also, wash everything yourself except suits (woolite and the gentle cycle/hand dry is your friend).  For suits, use a suit brush and a cheap portable steamer every other time you wear them and only dry clean once a year or so unless you sweat like crazy.

Ok, thats a pretty long post for me, I would be happy to help with more detailed follow-up questions though about where to buy or how to buy very few pieces for a pretty awesome wardrobe.  Both my wife and I love style and dress well for very little money.  (Also, Barney's is way overrated and their house line sucks!)

DoubleDown

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #29 on: November 02, 2012, 02:36:00 PM »
Reading this, I find it amazing that people put so much emphasis on looks in our society.  What about actual competency?

I'm not familiar with more fancy areas and most days I wore shorts and flip flops to work in Boulder, but would people really look down on others because they're not wearing brand names?  How can you even tell? 

Everywhere I worked, it didn't matter what people wore or what they looked like.  You knew within a couple of weeks who the slackers were and who the hardworking people were.  You knew who you could trust with a project and who's work you had to check.  There was no correlation between what people wore and how competent they were.

In real estate, there is more emphasis on dressing well.  All the realtors are fancy-shmancy and driving these shiny cars around.  I ride my bike and wear jeans with a nice shirt.  I try to look nice and clean - don't show up in a sweatsuit, but I work hard to get real data for people and understand the house that I will be showing.  I get background information and answer all their questions.  I get back to people right away.  And, you know what?  Nobody has ever cared what I wore or how I got to a showing.  If they did, I made a good enough impression to have them keep using me.  They care about what you say and how you make them feel.   They care about the service you provide and how much you can help them.

If you're healthy, confident, and happy, I guarantee you will look better than everyone else no matter what you're wearing.

While I agree with your sentiment about what should matter in the work environment (things like competence and trustworthiness), in practice the way one dresses absolutely matters in many professions (as in the law firm example) or most other professional offices in a large city. If someone showed up in shorts or flip flops or anything else less than expected, they would literally be sent home, probably chastised roundly, and certainly looked at like they had two heads. And of course they would have set themselves up for longstanding disadvantage for raises, promotions, increased responsibility, and so on. I once showed up for work, after two years on the job, without shaving that morning. I did that only once(!), as my boss asked me with his stern tone and face within the first 30 seconds of my arrival, "Did your razor break this morning? You better go get a new one and use it, then come back."

I agree that in many professions and different areas of the country, the standards are different. For example, your choice of jeans and a nice shirt sounds perfect to me, particularly for the Boulder area. I don't know if that would pass muster in Manhattan (I don't live there), perhaps it would or perhaps not. Shorts and flip flops sound perfectly normal for a software engineer in California. It would not probably work in a large law firm, certainly not in court. My aunt, whom I visited once in her small town while on business in a nearby city, thought I was crazy and pretentious when I showed up wearing a suit (after leaving work). In her mind, only people who thought they were "big shots" wear suits. She just did not understand that is the basic "uniform" for everyone working in my profession.

My advice to any young person is to dress for success in their particular profession/area, whatever that standard is. It's simple: Dress like your boss does. I don't think it has to be expensive, and  name brands don't matter. You can get the same quality-looking clothing without the name brands. You can even get the name brand stuff at incredibly good prices if you look in the right places. So while maybe appearance shouldn't matter, the fact is that it does in many professions. No need to purposely disadvantage yourself by showing up looking less presentable than others, no matter how competent you are.


Jamesqf

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #30 on: November 02, 2012, 03:00:57 PM »
Reading this, I find it amazing that people put so much emphasis on looks in our society.  What about actual competency?

I'm not familiar with more fancy areas and most days I wore shorts and flip flops to work in Boulder, but would people really look down on others because they're not wearing brand names?  How can you even tell?

It's a culture thing.  First, there's the East Coast/West Coast thing.  In the east, wearing suits & ties is (apparently) the norm, while to a lot of us west of the Rockies, "suit" is a derisive term applied to incompetent managers, lawyers, and suchlike.  (E.g. "Him?  Oh, he's just a suit.")  Add in the technical culture thing, and you have a gulf of mutual incomprehension.

nofool

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #31 on: November 02, 2012, 03:26:53 PM »
My advice to any young person is to dress for success in their particular profession/area, whatever that standard is. It's simple: Dress like your boss does. I don't think it has to be expensive, and  name brands don't matter. You can get the same quality-looking clothing without the name brands. You can even get the name brand stuff at incredibly good prices if you look in the right places. So while maybe appearance shouldn't matter, the fact is that it does in many professions. No need to purposely disadvantage yourself by showing up looking less presentable than others, no matter how competent you are.

Totally agreed. Brand names and flashy logos are not necessary. What you really need are well-fitting clothes in classic styles. It's more about the fit and the style than the brand names. Buy a classic leather bag, some nice leather shoes, a few tailored work shirts, cardigans in a couple different colors, pants that fit well. Mix and match! Someone can look like a million bucks in a sharply tailored outfit while someone wearing expensive brands that don't fit well can actually end up looking sloppy. Pay attention to fit and style.

AJ

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #32 on: November 02, 2012, 05:29:17 PM »
It's a culture thing.  First, there's the East Coast/West Coast thing.  In the east, wearing suits & ties is (apparently) the norm, while to a lot of us west of the Rockies, "suit" is a derisive term applied to incompetent managers, lawyers, and suchlike.  (E.g. "Him?  Oh, he's just a suit.")  Add in the technical culture thing, and you have a gulf of mutual incomprehension.

This is so true. I work out west, while the other half of the company (and all my immediate bosses) work on the east coast. There is a palatable difference in acceptable dress between the two. It is not uncommon to see folks in my office at all levels wearing jeans and a casual shirt on a regular basis, and dressing up when we get visitors from back east. Even though it is the same company, there is just an understanding that the dress code is not the same. I always thought it was because the executives work out there, but maybe it is a more wide-spread cultural thing.

That said, I think the standard advice still applies to dress for the job you want (or, at least take your cue from what your boss wears). Unless your shoes are flashy or inappropriate, I don't think it matters to anyone else if you wear the same ones every day. I would notice if my co-workers wore the same clothes every day, but unless their shoes catch my eye for some particular reason I would never even know. Especially men's shoes.

Mrs MM

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #33 on: November 03, 2012, 08:36:21 PM »
Yes, I agree with you guys that you should dress appropriately for your line of work.  But, you probably don't need 5 different pairs of shoes or several suit jackets... Many people in those types of professions buy way more clothing than they need to due to peer pressure or perhaps perceived pressure.

My rule is to try and look different on top and I tend to keep things neutral/same on the bottom.  One pair of dressy pants that are black with some black shoes could be mixed up with several shirts.

But yeah, things are very casual here in the West.  I've only owned one suit in my life and I wore the same one for interviews in my younger years when it was required.  I also wear the same 2 dresses to every wedding I attend.  Anyway, you get the point... :)

mm1970

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2012, 08:58:59 PM »
Reading this, I find it amazing that people put so much emphasis on looks in our society.  What about actual competency?

I'm not familiar with more fancy areas and most days I wore shorts and flip flops to work in Boulder, but would people really look down on others because they're not wearing brand names?  How can you even tell? 

Everywhere I worked, it didn't matter what people wore or what they looked like.  You knew within a couple of weeks who the slackers were and who the hardworking people were.  You knew who you could trust with a project and who's work you had to check.  There was no correlation between what people wore and how competent they were.

In real estate, there is more emphasis on dressing well.  All the realtors are fancy-shmancy and driving these shiny cars around.  I ride my bike and wear jeans with a nice shirt.  I try to look nice and clean - don't show up in a sweatsuit, but I work hard to get real data for people and understand the house that I will be showing.  I get background information and answer all their questions.  I get back to people right away.  And, you know what?  Nobody has ever cared what I wore or how I got to a showing.  If they did, I made a good enough impression to have them keep using me.  They care about what you say and how you make them feel.   They care about the service you provide and how much you can help them.

If you're healthy, confident, and happy, I guarantee you will look better than everyone else no matter what you're wearing.
Maybe I'm just lucky being in engineering (where we spend time in bunny suits, no less), but I haven't found that what I wear  has any bearing on what people think of me.  Sure, some people notice if I get a new shirt or something (usually the ladies).  But mostly they just care that I'm a good engineer who gets stuff done.

badassprof

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2012, 10:13:16 PM »
I agree with the East/West coast observation. When I lived on the east coast, I definitely dressed differently than I do now, living in the SF bay. Also more hair/nail maintenance, which is definitely optional here.  But there were other cultural differences too: I was teaching at a Catholic, urban university. And being a young female professor who got mistaken for a student constantly, I was, perhaps, a little more anal about trying to look professional than some.  Now, I'm at a liberal arts college. And, I have tenure--that makes  all the difference in how one chooses to dress, I think. That being said, I don't wear jeans or tennis shoes to work--I never have and even though I could, I'd feel uncomfortable.

happy

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #36 on: November 03, 2012, 10:45:45 PM »
 Just lost a long reply x2 arghhh.

To cut it short:

Buy classic basic pieces eg a suit( if thats your work code). Use cheaper items eg shirt/scarf etc with this season's accent.

Work out how much per wear something costs eg a good classic suit worn once a week for 3 years, that costs $150 is $1 a wear.  If you wear it twice a week thats 50c are wear. A cocktail dress for an event eg the work Xmas party that you wear once = $150/wear.  Be careful with"event"  or single wear clothes  ie buy second hand to save on this if needed.

Stocktake your wardrobe  say once a season and don't impulse buy. Buy what fills a hole in your wardrobe. Work out some basic colour schemes so you can mix and match items in a lot of different ways, so it looks like you have more. Go through your wardrobe and see if you can work out more combinations with what you have or if there's just a key piece that you give you a bigger range of possibilities.

Work out the colours and styles that suit you. You can do this yourself if you are cluey...but there are colour and style analysts available that will save you money in the long run, if you can't figure it out for yourself.  Buy ONLY your colours and your styles. Your colour and style will not be available every season, saving you money.   But you will look much more "expensive", if you buy what suits you.

PS OP I just re-read your question and realised I gave the wrong answer. I think in general terms it always pays to dress at least the level above yours or like your boss if you want a promotion and to follow the dresscode for your industry.  Sometimes you can get away with less eg as per Mrs MM,  but personally I think its less risky to conform if you really want a promotion. Just use every trick in the book to save $$ on the clothes. 

Currently I'm at the top of my salary band and there's not too much further I can go even if I wished to. So I now try to aim to spend to the minimum acceptable standard....interestingly people often assume my clothes are much more expensive than they are because I follow the above principles and because they assume I can afford more than I actually spend.

But if I'm interviewing  juniors and there's a choice between 2 of the same ability/work ethic then the most appropriately presented person would get the job.

« Last Edit: November 03, 2012, 11:05:45 PM by happy »

Mini-Mer

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #37 on: November 04, 2012, 07:08:42 AM »
This is more minimalism than MMM, but I started the http://theproject333.com/ at the beginning of this year.  Quick summary: pick 33 pieces of clothing and accessories out of your wardrobe.  For the next three months, those are the only pieces you wear in public.  (Undergarments and workout clothes are freebies.)

I picked out clothes I looked great in and put a suit in regular rotation, a lot of people noticed that I was dressing better.  Including my boss.  No-one noticed that they were seeing the same nice clothes over and over.

I recommend this project because it doesn't involve buying new stuff right away.  Most people have a lot of slack in their wardrobes, so it may just be a matter of switching to a smaller subset of clothes for work.

Lina

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #38 on: November 04, 2012, 12:10:53 PM »
Great reply Happy, I agree with you! I also use the price per wear calculation. High quality clothes and shoes in basic models will mostly lead to the lowest price per use.

First impressions matters in many professions. If you want to perceived professional you dress accordingly. I have been on several lectures with a really good lawyer that knows her subject. The problem is that she is not dressing for her role. Think miniskirts ( I could see her underwear when I sat next to her during a coffee break!), children accessories and a wardrobe that has not been updated since the 80's. The point is that people focus more on her clothes then on what she says and she is good at her subject. Believe me they talk about her clothes not about the subject. By not following the dress code she dilutes her message.

You want people to notice that your are nicely and appropriately dressed so that they can thereafter focus on what you are saying as they perceive you as the professional that you are.

For those that think people don't notice if you are wearing the same clothes and shoes every day, I would say that you are making an incorrect assumption. Most of the people are noticing at least in office environments but they would not comment on it as it would be seen rude to do that.

DoubleDown

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #39 on: November 05, 2012, 10:31:09 AM »

For those that think people don't notice if you are wearing the same clothes and shoes every day, I would say that you are making an incorrect assumption. Most of the people are noticing at least in office environments but they would not comment on it as it would be seen rude to do that.

Excellent point! I was going to say the same thing, and would add that not only are others noticing, but not commenting on your appearance, they are also very likely making conscious or subconscious judgments about you because of it. You don't want to be setting negative impressions with decision-makers at your work. It DOES make a big difference, whether or not you have "noticed" it.

I've seen a lot of people fall on their swords and have their careers suffer because they don't, quote, "buy into the whole office politics thing," or "need to conform to others' standards of appearance", or "need to be polite and fake and cheery as long as they do their jobs well" ...

You better be freakin' Einstein or the million-dollar closer at your work (i.e., invaluable) if you're going to decide you don't have to play the game and can still get ahead.

Jamesqf

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #40 on: November 05, 2012, 11:46:36 AM »
You better be freakin' Einstein or the million-dollar closer at your work (i.e., invaluable) if you're going to decide you don't have to play the game and can still get ahead.

At my last actual job (that is, where I got a paycheck & benefits) I worked down the hall from a guy who basically developed the technology that made multi-Gbyte hard drives possible.  I don't really think management gave a damn what he wore, or that he often brought his dogs to work with him.

Maybe we ought to think a little bit about which direction is really "ahead" in the career.  If what you really, really want is to move up the management ladder, then go ahead and do the "Dress for Success" thing. 

smalllife

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #41 on: November 05, 2012, 12:02:55 PM »
I keep going back and forth on this issue.

On the one hand I think confidence plays a major role in presentation.  Bottom line is that I don't feel comfortable in stiff clothes and I get self conscious because they don't fit my bust/waist ratio appropriately, even after tailoring.  So I wear knits and take care to have a pop of color and clean appearance.  People do pay attention, but they notice accessories more than they do the background clothing. I work for a department in a casual company that has zero interaction with clients and as such jeans are a staple of everyone's wardrobe.  Maybe it helps that I planned my wardrobe to easily become business casual with two or three purchases, but I'm content to be a minor step below the boss (who actually sees clients) but a bit above the rest of the department.

The other part of the equation is that I do want to advance, and I can see that happening quicker if I ditch the jeans.  But I'm also on a path the partial employment rather than completely retired and I'm okay with sacrificing a few years to be happy now.

DoubleDown

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #42 on: November 05, 2012, 12:39:03 PM »

At my last actual job (that is, where I got a paycheck & benefits) I worked down the hall from a guy who basically developed the technology that made multi-Gbyte hard drives possible.  I don't really think management gave a damn what he wore, or that he often brought his dogs to work with him.

Maybe we ought to think a little bit about which direction is really "ahead" in the career.  If what you really, really want is to move up the management ladder, then go ahead and do the "Dress for Success" thing.

Great example! And that clearly invaluable guy was also the exception, correct? Meaning, he was the one out of maybe 1000 that was so brilliant? The rest of us regular folks probably would not get as much leeway showing up in ripped jeans with our dogs in tow :-)

I would say also that dressing for success does not have to equate solely with trying to move up the management chain (not sure you are necessarily suggesting that). It seems like there's this undercurrent where people are saying that dressing well for work is like "selling out" or seeking the wrong, fake goal. I'm certainly not advocating being all flash with no substance, or being focused on looks. I'm just talking about investing a few hundred dollars to look presentable at work and reaping the benefits (beyond moving up the management ladder). For every one of those geniuses in torn jeans where appearances didn't matter, I could show 100 people who were passed over for standing on their principles or decision not to dress appropriately, or refusing do the office politics thing, etc.

I don't know, I wouldn't show up to a wedding or court in some crappy attire, or to a funeral in my board shorts or jeans, so why would I at work? Isn't dressing appropriately just a simple point of respect and demonstrating decorum, that you care?

Jamesqf

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #43 on: November 05, 2012, 02:22:31 PM »
Great example! And that clearly invaluable guy was also the exception, correct? Meaning, he was the one out of maybe 1000 that was so brilliant? The rest of us regular folks probably would not get as much leeway showing up in ripped jeans with our dogs in tow :-)

Actually, no, he was not the exception.  An outlier, yes, but most of the roughly 600 people at that location were working on things that might lead to similar, often profit-making, technical breakthroughs.  (The thing about research is that you never know which off-the-wall idea is going to pan out.)  Nor was his manner of dress in any way unusual.

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #44 on: November 05, 2012, 03:14:47 PM »
The problem with only having one pair of black pants or one or two suit jackets is that you start to smell.  Seriously.  :)

capital

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Re: What would MMM wear to work?
« Reply #45 on: November 06, 2012, 11:53:14 AM »
If I dress up to their level or a level above me, I will literally not be able to save anything.
Does New York not have thrift stores or eBay?

It's the level of brand/dress that I'm having trouble with.  People wear Laboutin's and Barney's suits.
I got a Barney's suit at the Salvation Army on 96th.