Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A New Business Fashion Is Coming

Seems CNN and USA Today have been reading my blogs on the coming change in appropriate business attire.


I mentioned sometime ago, and touch on this in my book, How To Play Business Golf, that the need for dressing professionally is returning.  The day of the sweat shirt and cargo pants as formal business wear is gone. 


When I consult with business people on appropriate and successful business imagery I am usually am asked what causes Business Fashion.  My answer is; Business Fashion is reflective of success.   What, or whoever, is successful in business today usually sets the standard for the latest business fashion.  How successful business people are seen in public will be portrayed as the business fashion for today.  


Every business today should be looking for a successful business image.  Nobody wants to do business with someone who has a bad business image.  So, to find an appropriate business image the best place is to look to the market and at the business people in the media who are successful.  Whatever these successful business people are wearing starts the business fashion that other business people will quickly pick up on as an appropriate business fashion.


There is quiet a history on business fashion.  Just pick up a history book or archive old news paper articles.  Look what the business people of that day were wearing.  And then look at a picture during that same year at a group of business people.   Aren’t they all dressed alike? 


Each fashion swing is called an era. So, what business fashion era are we coming out of and going into?  Business today is rapidly leaving the Casual Friday era and moving into an era of what I am going to call Post .COM era.


For the benefit of anyone starting a business today, or is getting into the business world today, that was born after 1982, when the pre .COM era was really cooking, let me fill you in on where business imagery is coming from and going to.  


From the start of the .COM era, which was almost on a parallel with the grunge fashion movement, came the business fashion that created the Casual Friday movement.  Again, business owners and managers looked to the people of that day who were making big bucks and deducing that the way they looked is the look of success, so came  I want to look successful I need to look more like them.


But, to keep from jumping off the cliff of such a drastic change in business fashion, from a world of three piece suites to blue jeans, the large corporations decided to take it in stages and started the Casual Friday, which became the largest changes in business fashion in nearly 20 years.


Now, for those of you who missed out on the fun and frolic of the Casual Friday era and came into the business world seeing Casual Friday now being Casual Monday thru Friday let me provide you with the 411 on the evolution of Casual Friday.


The concept of Casual Friday began where on Friday you could take your tie off.  That was the first generation or version .01 of Casual Friday.  The next version went from taking off the tie to wearing a golf shirt under you sport jacket, to getting rid of the sport jacket and wearing just a golf shirt and khaki slacks on Friday.  Then as the .COM owners started cashing six figure paychecks the image of success jumped off the cliff to now allowing jogging suites, sweat shirts, blue jeans and bad haircuts everyday of the week just to stay up with the successful business fashion of the day.  Or, what was commonly known as the Cuban Era.


From there the business fashion rapidly evolved into being so absurdly casual the business’ customers, or clients, did not know if they were in their business office or a shopping mall.  But that all changed in late 2002.   


From the first quarter 2002 to the fourth quarter of 2004 the business community was flooded with business people laid off from the now defunct .COM tech industry and the downsizing of large fortune 500 corporations.  Along with the surplusing of thousands of corporate America’s junior executives, the unemployed market was then provided thousands of professionally trained executive’s managers with tons of leadership skills. 


What were these two diverse groups to do in a market with high unemployment?  Here is where the new business fashion started.  These highly experienced corporate executives let their instincts and training kick in and looked to the current market’s weaknesses and immediately started filling in the voids by starting businesses that support the current economy.  In some cases the two groups joined forces to compete with the now leaner large corporations.


But, since most of the small businesses were self funded ventures, the playing field was still not level.  So, In order to compete, the smaller businesses, now lead by the savvy executives and out of the box thinking techs, had to find innovative cost effective ways to catch the consumer’s attention.


What also started in early 2002, and is really cooking today, is scamming.  Consumers over the past four years have been hit every which way by business people who are purposely misleading consumers as a way of doing business.  What has developed is a mistrust of anyone in business, large or small.


So, what are the savvy new business owners and managers doing to catch consumer’s attention and gain their trust?  They did what large businesses find not worth their time or effort.  They took their message to the streets.  They stated networking with other small businesses to find who and what they needed in the market place.  They changed the way they go about doing business to building one solid business relationship at a time.  They changed the way they think about doing business.  And most importantly, they changed the way they personally looked.  And, with making these changes, the consumers started flocking to these new businesses making them become successful.


The biggest successful change was in the way they look.  They look successful; like someone you can trust.  And what happens when other business people see business owners who are successful?  A business fashion starts….


No longer are the oversized LL Bean flannel shirts, Abercrombie and Fitch pants and REI hiking boots a sign of success and deemed something you would wear to a board meeting.    Today, for the men, the sharp dress shirt and dress slacks are back, and for the ladies, the business fashion is getting back to the classic look with patterns and color now being appropriate.  And the movement mandates a more professional haircut with no facial hair on the men.   Coats and ties are now expected during sales meetings and the all important business networking gatherings. 


Look in any business journal or newspaper or business related television program and you will see the successful people dressing UP, and not down….


How long with this business fashion era last?  Today’s business fashion of people dressing to reflect their professionalism is here fro a long while.  Projects are that the damaged caused by the last days of causal Friday dress was so grat that mothers are now not allowing their kids to be caught up in the fashion industries trends and fads.  The consumers have caught on over the past forty years in the business fashion swings and see the common denominator is to a more professional look being more universal and more cost effective.  Some what like the leisure suite era of the 60’s and 70’s, today’s business people and consumers are not going to get caught up in fashion hype and invest into changing their entire wardrobe to the latest business fashion.


My projection would be that not until we move towards space travel will there be another business fashion that will change the basis of today’s business fashion.  And that might not be really that far away…


No matter what business you are in, from a street artist to a plumber, to an office worker to a corporate CEO, you need to feel good about yourself and what you are doing.  The way you look to other people is a advertisement sign of yourself to other people on how much you respect your self and them.  Think about that when you look to finding ways to improve your business’ bottomline.  The little investment it takes in looking like you like yourself will draw more people to want to get to know you.  And the more people you know the better chance you have in improving your business.


I applaud CNN for reporting this trend in their newscasts yesterday, and for the news line sending the articles out on to the newspapers on this change in direction for businesses.  The message was loud and clear, if you want to be successful you have to look successful and look like you care about who you are and what others think of you…  The righteous dude from the .com era now wears a three piece.


Scot Duke


Innovative Business Golf Solutions, LLC.




‘My Blog’ http://businessgolf.blogspot.com


Author of: ‘How To Play Business Golf’, From The Boardroom To The Fairways…

The best investment you can make for your business…






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