“If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.” – NFL Hall-of-Famer Deion, “Prime Time” Sanders
With an ongoing shift in the workplace to more casual clothing, we see less professionals wearing business attire to the office. The paradigm for dress codes has changed and being comfortable at work has become a priority. Personally, I’ve never found dress clothes uncomfortable (perhaps you’re being fit wrong?). Sure, nothing is as comfortable as sweatpants and a hoodie but it’s clearly not the most presentable thing in the world.
In an occupation where people are constantly looking for advantages, I believe the way you dress is the easiest way to gain a competitive edge. Think of wearing a shirt and tie as the equivalent to wearing your game jersey. Sure, your company may let you wear polo’s and khakis (or maybe even jeans) to work, but when you wear the shirt and tie to work it commands respect and says a lot without you saying a word.
As an athlete growing up I can remember how important the game jersey was and the honor associated with wearing it. Even getting a practice jersey was an encouraging sign because it meant you had a made it and were part of the team. Even so, nothing instilled a sense of pride more than putting on that game jersey. Sure, the time spent in the locker room getting ready, talking strategy and getting fired up was exciting but the feeling of pulling that jersey over your head was something else entirely.
I think Deion was on to something, and let me be clear: Deion is no mentor of mine (although every current “twenty-something” had Nike’s with a velcro strap across the laces and wanted to play cornerback at recess everyday). But, Deion felt that looking good made him feel and play better and I approach my work day the same way.
I think this mentality gives me (a sales professional) an advantage as well, if nothing more than for the fact it shows I care. Whether at a client meeting or a networking event, if you put the person who is wearing what I’ve outlined as the “practice jersey” (khakis and a polo shirt) next to someone who is wearing their “game jersey” (a full suit or dress pants and a shirt and tie), who do you subconsciously trust more? This can be applied to any industry. You never go to a car dealership and find a sales professional relaxing in their boat shoes because they need to build trust from the moment they set foot in there.
Wearing business attire daily can become pedestrian but that’s only because you become accustomed to it. A quick trip outside of the office will remind you how your dress can affect how you are treated. I recently went to a restaurant after work – still in my work clothes – and all of the sudden I was a Sir. I have a feeling sweatpants and hoodie wouldn’t have provoked such respect.
Try it. Have a big meeting coming up? Or need to have a killer week and you have a case of the Monday’s? Put on a shirt and tie and a pair of dress pants. I can promise you will attack the week with more vigor than your standard khakis and polo would elicit.
Look good, feel good, play good.
Remember: nobody wears their practice jersey on game day.