Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Suits you Sir

On the BBC News site last week, there was an article asking if suits are on the way out as the "uniform" of choice in British businesses.  In the company I work for, suits are obligatory and I don't see that changing. Women get off lightly of course - though they may say that it's actually more difficult for them and a suit is an easy choice.

I used to work for the UK subsidiary of a German financial company (as did another fine blogger that you may read).  They took the approach that, unless you were seeing a client, you didn't need to wear a suit and even then it wasn't required.  So I wore smart trousers and a shirt and only ever put a tie on if a company representative was visiting me.

When we visited the sales conferences in Germany, I was surprised and pleased to see the CEO stand before the 3000 people in jeans and a polo top.  No British CEO would do such a thing.  German business has a refreshing and modern approach it seems.

Up to that time I had always worn a suit at work.  In fact, it had been a company rule at most of the companies I had worked for. I always felt it was stupidly old fashioned and only the British now seem to be clinging to this tradition.

Sadly the UK operation was closed with the client bank and advisers sold to a firm that has a very different agenda. I was there nearly 5 years and despite it being over 3 years since it all ended, I still miss the atmosphere, the freedom and the opportunities it gave me (such as foreign travel).  Life moves on... my career stalled. Could be worse.

Today I am seeing clients and will wear my suit, my uniform - it's the company rule. Wouldn't it be highly original for a national company to break with tradition and allow simple smart clothes?  No chance!

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the lively conversation, My best to the once and future Blowhards!
    Scarves Scarves

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  2. My current job is very relaxed - some days I wear a suit and some days (usually on a Friday) I wear jeans, but I could wear jeans during the week if I was going out after work for example.

    I mainly wear suits because in previous jobs I had to, so as I've invested £500 each in them it seems silly to leave them in the cupboard.

    There is something about a good suit that is a leveller, and it gives you confidence when meeting very senior people.

    It is a ridiculous outfit though really - for most people the jacket is hung up as soon as they get into the office!

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  3. Thanks for the mention!

    As I recall, there was a different approach in the branch I worked in - am sure all the blokes wore suits all the time in the office.

    My current office has a dress code of "shirt and trousers - but the blokes mostly wear suits anyway... although the directors don't always! We do have dress down every Friday, though.

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