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Monday, March 17, 2008

The guy in the tie…

Recently I decided to go back to wearing a tie everyday to work, after 10+ years of going without. Yes, I know that my picture here shows me in a suit, with a tie; however, that wasn't how I'd been dressing for work for quite a while. It's been casual shirts and slacks for years.

A part of the reason for the change back to a tie is that I realized in a recent photo session that I (like many men over time) had let the casual look go too far and that it has started to look a bit sloppy and certainly not as professional as I want to look. I was taking digital pictures of new agents so that they could get business cards ordered and I had one of them take my picture too. I don’t often get in the pictures at work or around our house, because I’m most often behind the camera. Even though I had my normal slacks and a nice casual shirt on, I didn’t like the results. The open-collared casual shirt, while nice, just didn’t seem to connote a business image. It looked a bit sloppy and way too casual. So it’s back to the tie for me.

I remember when we all started going informal, back in the 80’s. At first it was casual Fridays and then it just sort of took off. I remember that I was selling computers to General Motors when they open the first Saturn plant in Springhill, Tennessee. We were warned that if you wore your suit and tie to the Springhill plant they would take a pair of scissors and cut off your tie. They were really into the informal look. Everyone at the plant, managers and workers alike dressed in their informal; "Team Saturn" apparel. That was the real start for me of everyday casual business dress. Back then the term "business casual" still held up a pretty high standard of dress; but, over time, the “business" part seems to have melted away and just the casual part remains today. And that has gotten a bit too casual. I suspect the slow switchover from Hathaway and Van Heusen shirts to Dockers shirts and pants had something to do with that. It has now progressed to blue jeans being included as "casual dress."

Even nice restaurants are now filled with people in their “casual” jeans, something that my wife and I just won’t do. People even go to church in casual clothes, even jeans and shorts, these days. I've even been to weddings and funerals where several people showed up in jeans. It’s really gone way too far. Having the decency and good taste to dress for those venues and events or to go to a nice restaurant is a small show of respect for the people, places and events involved. The same is true for the business environment. Putting on a nice shirt and tie, along with a pair of nice slacks (not jeans) I believe is showing the respect of a businessman for his customers – no matter what they may be wearing themselves. So, I'll be wearing a tie everyday to the "office", even if I don't have a customer appointment that day. It just feels right for me. It feels professional. For me, it's the right thing to do.

Jack Roush of NASCAR’s Roush Racing is known around the NASCAR pits (with deference to Dr Seuss) as the “cat in the hat” because he always wears a fedora of some sort. So now, I’m known in our office as the “guy in the tie.” I like that. Maybe I’ll do an advertising thing around that theme. Perhaps if I can combine that with my new commitment to try to maintain a positive attitude "the guy in the tie" will also be "the dude with the 'tude." OK, enough already. See you around town. I'll be the guy in the tie.

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