Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
Does Mark Twain have a clue? This post is about a little trial and error when it comes to clothing choices.
As you know, I have started a new job. I have spent the last three days getting playfully buried by my co-workers for my attire. My first day, I rocked a track suit. My clever friends busted my balls, asking if it was a “tearaway.”
Baseball is a game of tradition. The dress styles of the men who play and work in our sport follow suit (see?). Traditional baseball garb for Florida and Arizona is a golf shirt and khaki pants, tennis shoes and sunglasses. I always look to challenge the notion that we should do something simply because it’s the way we’ve always done it. Why should my clothing selections be any different? I like the idea that even something like dress style may have value at the margins. From forbes.com:
Dressing casually could cause an employee to feel less focused and alert says Dr. Karen Pine, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and fashion psychologist.
“When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear’, so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”
I like the idea of feeling more focused and alert. I’ve been going around in a sport coat and have been mocked for it unmercifully. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be back in a clubhouse environment.
The research found: “The influence of clothes thus depends on wearing them and their symbolic meaning.”
“This theory supports the notion that we would stay more focused when wearing work clothes, and may be more cognitively alert than if we dressed down,” adds Dr. Pine.
I’m not saying that putting on a sport coat will monumentally change the way I work; I’m simply willing to experiment with the idea for a while. I take batting practice a certain way with a purpose and an intended outcome, I brush my teeth with certain strokes for a reason, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to optimize for a quality net result when I put my pants on, too.
Just as we always do, we should be reading articles to see both what they say and what they don’t. In this case, the article contains a lot of abstract theories and anecdotal results. These are anything but scientifically conclusive. I’m not going to blindly trust their declarations, but I’m willing to experiment a bit and keep an open mind. I won’t crack under the peer pressure to conform.
After all, I’ve been clamoring for the clubhouse. It seems I’ve gotten what I’ve wished for.