I don’t care what anybody says; I’m SO glad we have a dress code at Black Enterprise. Just saw a guy from another company on the elevator in the building where our New York offices are located. His slacks looked like he took them from a homeless dude with dandruff. (I mean, they were like the bum in the Slick Rick lyrics: Don’t know the meaning of water nor soap. Nor dry cleaners. Nor even an iron. And there really were white flakes on them.) His belt missed at least one loop. And I think his fly was open. He had on a dress shirt, half tucked in. His shabby black kicks (couldn’t tell whether they were shoes or sneakers) would be rejected by Goodwill.
Now, not everybody who’s worked for Black Enterprise, past and present, feels the way I do about our dress code of traditional business attire, including shirts, ties, jackets and leather shoes for us men. (I love wearing suits and ties, and I’ve always been one of the better dressed people at every job I’ve ever had, even before I began making decent money.) But every time I ride the elevator in my building, I’m newly grateful for the policy. Ours is the most professionally attired company in our building by far. Even our operations staff dress better than many of the professionals and managers at most companies. Everybody in our building can tell who works for Black Enterprise. And it’s not because most of us are Black. Many people don’t want to believe it, but our attire does make a difference in how we are seen by others—and perhaps more importantly, how we see ourselves, as individual professionals and as a company.
Every dress code shouldn’t be like that of a white shoe law firm. What makes sense obviously varies from industry to industry, and even company to company. But some attire standard must be set or people will go buck wild. If your dress policy is going to be a casual one, then for goodness sakes, define it, and hold the people in your organization to it.
Amateurs play the game wearing whatever they want to. Pros wear uniforms. I’m proud to wear the uniform of Black Enterprise.
How about you, are you for dress codes at work or an advocate of self expression—even if it’s in poor fashion taste? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.