In an earlier post I discussed the work dress-code nightmare.
One management consultant has become so distressed by the arrival of a new boss who insists on dressing down that he has written to Lucy Kellaway’s problem page.
It’s not just the thought of dressing down at work that worries British men; it’s having to shop at The Gap that makes the whole thing truly depressing. I only have to walk into one of their stores and I lose the will to live.
In any case, this whole business-casual thing is a sham. Many of the companies that try to appear relaxed and informal are every bit as hard-headed and elitist as the stuffy old banks and insurance companies. In many firms the chinos and t-shirts have just replaced the suit as the required uniform. Go into work dressed as a Goth and you’d be in serious trouble.
One consultant I knew was working on two projects at the same time. One was with a more traditional Japanese corporation, the other was for a company focussed on the youth market. Sometimes, he had meetings with both organisations on the same day. He would have to go back to his hotel room and change out of his suit and into his jeans, or vice versa, just to fit in with the clients’ dress-codes.
Even when they pretend otherwise, organisations like people to conform.