The clothes make the man (or woman)

Joe Sharkey’s NY Times travel column today covers an interesting subject: proper business attire. In Sharkey’s piece, he recounts the style gaffe he’d recently committed by wearing a light colored business suit to a mid-Summer meeting in Tokyo. That’s a no-no, says Sharkey, who advises readers to always wear dark, traditional suits when conducting business in Japan.

Sharkey’s piece got me to thinking about some of the fashion disasters we’ve had over the years at Peppercom. For example, there was:

1) the Jimmy Buffet-type media specialist who loved to sport his Hawaiian shirts, jeans and flip Flip_flops flops in the office. This guy was a great publicist, but we cringed at the thought of bringing him to client meetings (not that he didn’t have very attractive feet mind you).

2) the management supervisor who wore a New Jersey Devils jersey and cap every Friday. Now, I’m a big fan of casual dress codes, but managers simply shouldn’t wear baseball caps in the office (unless, of course, they actually work for a sports team).

3) the female manager who wore low riders and oh so visible thongs. I’ll never forget the shocked reaction of our then-consultant when he spotted the fashion gaffe. This woman was so oblivious to the distraction she was causing that we had to enlist our human resources manager to do an intervention.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to dress in the office. Sensing what’s right and what’s not is a key part of building one’s image and reputation within the organization. While it won’t make or break a career, flip-flops and low riders can definitely slow down its progress. When in doubt, though, follow the dress codes of your supervisors (unless, of course, they’re wearing ice hockey jerseys or showing too much of their anatomy).

8 thoughts on “The clothes make the man (or woman)

  1. rep-
    i think there were several lo-ride offenders in the office over the years. that certainly wasn’t as bad an offense as the devils jersey. but the devils jersy wouldn’t have been so bad if he didn’t start yelling and cursing in front of the biggest clients the first time he met them 🙂

  2. Maybe some sandal maker should launch a line of office friendly flops? I know I would be willing to model them.
    Again, please note, that they have been retired from my work wardrobe.
    While many might miss my toes, please note that they will be making appearances all summer long on the beach. And, if my schedule permits, perhaps I will sport them on Park Ave South soon.
    I do wish to see my lips in the lobby once more, you know.

  3. I do remember Jimmy’s flip flops being discussed quite often. I, for one, never wore them to the office so I can’t say much about the double standard comment. Although, tons of women in the office have worn them. If you can’t already tell, I’m not a big flip flop fan. I don’t think they look good on anyone. I do remember back in the early days, I wore shorts to the office once on a half day Friday. Not jean shorts – dressy shorts..or so I thought. I think it was Lee who mentioned I looked like I should be playing tennis. Needless to say, never wore shorts to the office again. I should have known better. However, I think it was Jimmy’s attire that made me think it was ok in the first place.

  4. Actually Trish, Ms. low rider was a fairly senior player during the dotcom days who was totally oblivious to the stir she was causing until we engineered the intervention. Happily, we haven’t had too many incidents since. Btw, Trish, what’s your take on Jimmy’s flip-flop’s “double standard” comment? He says we were being gender insensitive by picking on him (and Ed) but not saying anything to the women in the office…..

  5. I believe it was an intern who wore the low riders you mention. The same intern, by the way, who flipped the bird at Ed during a Christmas party. That said, I do believe that your clothes can be, not always, but can be indicative of the type of worker you are. If you dress slovenly, one may be perceived as lazy. On the other side of the coin, an impeccable dresser may come off as “high maintenance”. I agree that one should always be safe and dress “up” rather than down. I still hear stories from clients about people showing up to events in jeans and the like. I have never heard one story about someone being overdressed. BTW – I think I saw the Devils guy in the street last time I was in NY. He’s still wearing it….

  6. I do remember Ed’s sandals. The way the braided leather allowed breezes of air to reach his toes – they must be a real pleasure to wear (not to mention show off on the conference room table).

  7. Jimmy: You’re not the only one who misses your feet. They were/are world class. In fact, you should have become a male foot model. That said, as handsome as your dogs were/are, you run a distant second to Ed Moed. When Ed breaks out his Yassir Arafat-branded Mideast sandals in midsummer and props his feet up on the conference room table, it’s a real thing of beauty. Sorry to hear that you’ve comformed to loafers, Jimbo….

  8. RepMan et al:
    This is the Jimmy Buffett media specialist writing. I will admit that I did under dress while showing for work at 470 Park during the summer months.
    Before you read on, please note that the flip-flops haven’t made it into an office since. And, presently we’re allowed (even encouraged) to dress down on appropriate days, and while I’ve got some fabu Hawaiian shirts recently, I’m saving them for my days on the Strathmere beach. Strictly Polo’s when its time for short sleeves.
    My rebuttal:
    1. I am still a great publicist. (That must have been a typo, right?)
    2. When it was show-time in front of clients, not only was I among the best dressed, but I was the best looking [sic].
    3. I think that it is a bit unfair that women were allowed to wear flip flops in the office without a comment, but when I wore mine, I was subject to pots & shots. Granted, I took it all with a grain of salt; because I knew (and still do) that what really matters is job performance.
    All of that said, I will again share that I’ve upgraded from flip flops to some nice loafers. While they are just as comfortable and easy to get on and off, I do miss catching glimpses of my toes throughout the day. Anyone else?