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Suited for Success: The New (Old) Corporate Dress Codes

Leaders, senior managers and career-advancing professionals have long known the power of the dark, conservative classic suit. The advent of this quintessential workplace uniform became known as "dressing for success" in 1978 when author John T. Molloy wrote the book, "Dress For Success." It has been nearly 25 years since the first edition of that book went to press. It quickly became the ultimate guide to workplace clothing and professional success. Several revisions and many fashion trends later, working Americans are once again on the cusp of corporate, institutional and industrial clothing changes.

The history of casual clothing as an everyday fashion choice, and later as a method of corporate reward ("Casual Friday's") can be traced to the 1954 movie, The Wild One , starring, Marlon Brando. Mr. Brando single-handedly launched Levi's® as a medium of mass communication. Since the year of their inception in 1853, Levi's jeans have been prized for their durability and protection. Since The Wild One , Levi's have become a universal fashion statement of "independence," "rebellion," and a youthful rejection of the business suit.

However in 2003, casual dress, especially in the workplace, is swinging back to the professional look. Our company, WorkWise Productions has begun receiving many calls from organizations all over the nation requesting our program on "The New Corporate Dress Codes: The Benefits of Suiting Up Everyday." Since the events of September 11, 2001, Americans seem to now have a tremendous desire to represent themselves to the world, their children and their employers, as educated, poised and prepared.

Additionally, with so many people concerned about job security, why not consider using the blue interview suit that got you and your employees their jobs, as a modern tool for keeping, and advancing, in a job? Dressing in suits, classic blazers or matching timeless conservative clothing every workday can be an effective method to garner positive respect and attention. Many service and sales-focused companies have returned to a "suits only" dress code as a marketing tool to differentiate themselves from their competitors who may have switched from "casual Fridays" to "casual every days." Chinos and golf shirts are certainly comfortable but the upscale, service buying public seems to be responding to the well-coiffed, conservative suit-wearing company representative once again.

Next Column: A Humorous Approach: The Top Ten Benefits of The New (Old) Corporate Dress Code"

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