Why the Illusion of Dress Code?

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 2552 , Published on 24 August 2013
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When I left a very well-known company to pursue my MBA, I was told there’ll be a lot of things that would change. Sure indeed , a lot DID change in my life … the whole ambience of college life brought back a relieving freshness to my life . But I guess there are some things that never change.. certain illusions that never seem to stop haunting you like the illusion of a ‘DRESS CODE’.


image courtesy of artur84, freedigitalphotos.net

The  company (I had left) had perhaps the most stringent DRESS CODE policies. Each and every employee needs to be impeccably groomed…nay….dressed in formals. And it is to be followed to the extent that you might miss a meeting , loose a client ,miss a flight , may not be able to reach the doctor or whatever.. but can’t go inside/outside the office even if it’s a small matter like  your tie being a bit loose !!


So clearly, I thought leaving job  would bring me freedom from the aforementioned autocracy of DRESS CODE. But little did I know, that I was counting my chickens way too soon.. Even in the BSchool , you are expected to be wearing the so called ‘institute formals’ ( which to my horror I realized constituted of not only a formal shirt, a trouser and a tie , but also a hefty BLAZER!!) . And you are expected to wear this crap on.. wait for it.. every day you roam around in the summer visiting companies , every day you sit in an interview , every day your friend sits an interview, every time your institute hosts one out of a galaxy of seminars and events and conferences , every time you have to give a Corporate Finance presentation …and the list is endless. And every time I have to wear it..this one question keeps buzzing in my head. Why this illusion of a dress code?


It’s not that a guy wearing a coat will be able to memorize and recite the whole of Phillip Kotler, solve all numericals in I.M. Pandey and rip apart every other soul in a placement GD. And some other dude, who’s wearing a tee, would not be even able to add 2+2. The point that I’ am trying to make here is that DRESS CODE does not have any impact on the cognitive skills of an individual. Then why this illusion of a dress code?


There was something which amazed me back in my job days as well. I had friends in other IT companies as well, who did have DRESS CODE GUIDELINES , but not stringent RULES like ours that you needed to adhere to come what may. It’s not as if the former encountered crores of losses just because they allowed their employees to wear sandals in office. And it’s not as if companies are mounting up piles of cash just because their employees sweat it out in ties and blazers. Then why this illusion of a dress code?


Now , the supporters of the DRESS CODE regime usually point out that it is necessary because you have to meet HRs visiting your college , or as they say in companies , to ‘ meet foreign delegates who are gonna bring business to the company ‘. But I’d like to ask one simple question here.. how many of us have actually ever met  a HR/foreign delegate? I guess the answer would be a resounding NO. Its only a small fraction of people who actually end up meeting these high flyers. Then what is the rationale behind subjecting the whole population of your institution to adhere to such stringent dress code policies?


My question still remains unanswered. Why this illusion of a dress code?


The Article has been authored by Abhishek Chandra, LBSIM, Delhi




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