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Why You Still Have to Dress for Success

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This is going to totally date me, but back in my day, we got dressed up.


My very first job in high school was at JCPenney, then out of college it was Nestle, and then out of graduate school it was Johnson & Johnson -- with a coat and tie the entire time.

Sure, we had the occasional "casual Friday" and the even more occasional "jeans Friday," but they often included donating money to charity to earn the right to dress down. I remember one was even sponsored by Lee Jeans. Pretty smart, actually.

Related: What's the Difference Between Business Casual and Smart Casual? A Handy Guide on How to Dress. (Infographic)

As those occasions became more regular and more expected, we started getting used to bringing our wardrobe down a notch. Of course, being in a creative industry made the transition a bit easier. Looking a little more informal helps to reinforce that you're able to think out of the box.

The same was true of the social / dating scene, at least for me. We got dressed back in the day. We certainly did not wear a suit, but we did put on a proper shirt and either a clean pair of jeans or a cool pair of pants. "Cords" were big back then.

Clearly times have changed, as even the most conservative of institutions have now relaxed their dress code, and the social scene is left totally open for any self expression.

I get it.

I enjoy it, actually, and I benefit from the comfort of it all. It does indeed help to be creative when you're expressing your own personality in clothing that makes you comfortable enough to be able to think. And why wouldn't you let your friends and potential love interests know what you're all about through clothing that fits you and, well, fits you.

You shouldn't try to be something you're not anyway.

But I have to admit; I do miss the dress up a bit. I like the look of a purposeful outfit. I like the feel of bring prepared with clothing that makes a statement. I like the confidence that a thoughtful arrangement of shirt, pants and accessories provides.

Related: 5 Business Advantages of a Simple Wardrobe

So I don't often go totally casual.

Sure, I wear jeans a lot -- several kinds -- but I pair them with a vest or a suit jacket or a cardigan sweater. I still wear a suit now and then, but with a patterned shirt instead of a plain shirt and tie. I've been known to throw a scarf in there as well.

I dress at home as well.

We often stay in on a Friday and / or Saturday night. We cook, make appetizers, drink some wine and perhaps even shake up a martini. But we don't sit and stare at each other in cut off shorts and T-shirts -- we get dressed! I literally come home from work, get out of my work clothes and dress for a night in. For me, that's a nice (but different) pair of jeans or a fun pair of pants coupled with a shirt that might not be work-appropriate. But it is just plain fun.

I feel like we owe it to ourselves to make the effort. Work is the same way. I feel like I owe it to my colleagues to make the effort.

In all aspects of my life, I want to look like I want to be there. I want to look like I've planned to be there, and that I want others to be there with me. For me, that comes with a look that shows I care.

I guess it's just a part of my brand. I would like to suggest you make it a part of yours, whatever your look and whatever your brand is.

As an entrepreneur, it'll take you far with your team. And at home, well, it'll take you as far as you'd like it to.

Related: Your Attire Speaks Volumes Before You Open Your Mouth

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