Dress, Grooming, and the Effect on Attitude

It seems that shorts, a T-shirt, and “flip flops” are now considered appropriate wear at just about any public place. How did we, as a society, get to this point? When did “being comfortable” become more important than self respect and respect for others? Our society seems to have lost what was once common knowledge – that our outward appearance has a major impact on our attitude and on the attitude of others.

We have probably all seen the advertisements for a “Work at Home” income. Aside from the fact that they are almost always a scheme to separate the gullible from their money, they also usually paint a picture of working while wearing pajamas and slippers. Perhaps there really are some people who can work that way, but my experience has shown just the opposite.

I have worked from my home, full time, since 1995. I am what many would consider an entrepreneur – I started a business after designing and writing a software program that turned out to be very popular within its niche. I have seen less than a half dozen of my customers face-to-face, so I could easily get away with spending my days unshaven and wearing whatever seemed to be most comfortable. While I have done just that for very brief periods, the effect it has on my attitude has proven to me that good grooming and dressing well are every bit as important – if not more so – than in an office filled with co-workers and clients.

While I sit in my office at home, I make sure than I shave each morning and put on nice dress clothes. At a minimum, I wear dress pants and a long sleeve white dress shirt. On occasion I will even wear a coat and tie. I have found that it has a profound effect on my productivity, my level of professionalism, my attentiveness, and how I deal with my customers on the phone. All are greatly improved as a direct result of my outward appearance – something that typically only I and my wife will see.

About Stephen Clay McGehee

Born-Again Christian, Grandfather, husband, business owner, Southerner, aspiring Southern Gentleman. Publisher of The Confederate Colonel and The Southern Agrarian blogs. President/Owner of Adjutant Workshop, Inc., Vice President - Gather The Fragments Bible Mission, Inc. (Sierra Leone, West Africa), Webmaster - Military Order of The Stars and Bars, Kentucky Colonel.
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4 Responses to Dress, Grooming, and the Effect on Attitude

  1. pacebm says:

    Amen. I completely agree. I hate going out to eat at a nice place and half the men there are wearing sandal or flip flops and shorts. The American society has lost all self respect. Seems like I am the guy who is always over dressed because of the trend of casual dress in business. I work for a major oil company and all levels of management wear blue jeans and T-shirts. Last week the Site Manager wore a pair of sandals to work. I lose all respect for our leadership when I see this type of behaviour. If you dress professional, you will feel professional and act accordingly. I would suggest that anyone who reads and agrees with your articles should read everything they can about Robert E. Lee. He is the definition of being a gentleman; a true class act. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thank you, sir. Welcome to Confederate Colonel.

    Before I started my own business, I worked as an engineer at a defense electronics company. It was sort of a tradition that the women on the assembly line would dress up the day before the Christmas holidays began. The engineering crew would wear a tie that day also (the rest of the year it was usually a polo shirt). One year, I and the other engineer assigned to one product line decided that we were going to continue wearing a dress shirt and tie – and we did. After a few wise-cracks from the other engineers, that became the standard dress for the engineering staff and others who decided it just made it a more pleasant place to work. In some places that will work – and in some places it won’t. It’s certainly worth a try.

  3. Chad says:

    I agree that today most people lack the desire to properly dress themselves when in the public forum. The only place I ever wear sandals or flip flops is to the beach. At work, I wear scrubs most of the time, despite the fact that I prefer a collar dress shirt and dress pants. Scrubs are far easier to keep clean in a laboratory environment and last longer than more professional clothes. As far as dining, I dress accordingly. For instance to a causal restaurant such as Chili’s, jeans and either a t-shirt or polo shirt fit for the environment. When dinging at nicer restaurants, dress pants and dress shirts are a minimum must. I despise going to a nicer restaurant and half the people dining are dressed in Hawaiian shirts and shorts. Chances are I won’t be wasting my money at that restaurant at the future. If I wanted the Hawaiian shirt and short feel I would have gone to a Tiki bar and grill.

  4. Walter C Gusler says:

    As I am trying to catch up on articles while I was away this is the first one that I read and it falls right into place with some recent situations. My wife and I enjoy going to the Alberta Bair Theatre in Billings as they bring in more culture based performers. This was the one place where a suit and tie were required though it was an unwritten rule. I have noticed recently at various performances men showing up in shorts and t-shirts as well as ladies in cutoff jeans. Very inappropriate for these types of venues. When the Alberta Bair Theatre board proposed to make it a rule, there was an outcry that they were impinging on peoples rights. However as a business they have the right to cater to the class of individuals they want at their establishment and it has since become a rule. If a business man comes to me wearing shorts and flip flops I will not waste my time this goes for sales professionals as well. We have a business here in Billings in which the owner dresses in everything from a chicken suit to dressing up as an old woman. I met him at a trade show and he began talking to me about his business products for my home. He owns a flooring company. I explained to him that I expect to do business with a professional and will not deal with a guy and a gimmick. Dressing the part goes along way in relations with people.

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