A professional uniform – friend or foe?

I received an email from a colleague today. He posed an interesting question:

” I’ve been thinking of something and thought I’d ask your professional opinion. I was looking at a catalog for a furniture company and saw a closet where everything was the same (several of the same shirts, same pants, etc) and it was pleasing to the eye and strangely comforting. And then I started wondering if it was preferable or not to have a professional “uniform”… As in, would it be better to buy several of the same shirts, ties, pants, etc, and wear the same thing every day. I did a little research online and found interesting examples of very successful people who adhered to this rule (Einstein, Steve Jobs, etc) mainly because they wanted to devote their energy to more important things. But then I also thought about how I saw a movie recently and the serial killer had a closet full of all identical suits and shirts. What do you think?”
My response
I immediately thought of the Tom Cruise movie, Rain Man. A ‘professional uniform’ is a personal decision. I personally couldn’t do it simply because I would quickly get bored and feel I had no personality. I dress each day based on preparation for the people and environments I will interact with and my mood. I use color and wardrobe to create memorability for my personal brand. Oh and well, I LOVE fashion.
Rain Man
That said, if you think of clothing as simply utilitarian, a professional uniform may work. Initially it may be perceived as odd that you’re wearing the same thing over and over, but eventually they’ll know it’s “your uniform” and come to expect it. From a practical standpoint, you also have to watch the wear and tear of the garments.
I was surprised to see this colleague (a snazzy unexpectedly stylish accountant) consider this. One of the first things that drew me to working with Martin was his wardrobe. I instantly related to him. He works with creatives and we (the creatives) need to relate to him. Will the new ‘uniform’ serve him and his client base? You could go with the uniform wardrobe and keep your sass in eyeglasses and socks.
I’d love to generate a conversation here. Are you a Steve Jobs, Einstein, Tom Cruise or even a Martin?

Clare Hefferren

Leave a Comment