CEO’s Blog – Call me old-fashioned but I love a suit

Martin port

By Martin Port

21 March 2019

BigChange is a technology company, so many people assume that my colleagues and I come to work in jeans and a hoodie. We don’t. This isn’t the West Coast of the US and I am not an 18-year-old coder who lives on Huel and Pop Tarts.

In fact, I’m still a stickler for the suit. If any of my colleagues in sales or customer service are meeting clients or attending any kind of external meeting, I expect them to dress formally. A suit or smart outfit is mandatory; ties, for men, are optional.

Just one in 10 men now wear a suit to work, according to research by Travelodge. That’s an enormous shift from the 80s and 90s when every professional I knew wore one. This study said that 70pc of respondents felt more comfortable in their own clothes. I get it: suits are more confining than a t-shirt and chinos. But, in my opinion, it’s worth it for the gravitas that comes with wearing a suit.

I realise this may make me sound old-fashioned but I believe dressing smart is a way to show respect – respect for your customer, your company, and yourself. Things got a bit out of hand here recently when I realised people were wearing t-shirts and jumpers to meet customers. I don’t care if the person you are meeting runs a plumbing firm and turns up in overalls. You are my representative when you go to meetings and you will be suited and booted.

I am in the minority these days. The FT recently reported that even Goldman Sachs has relaxed its dress code, and allows its people to wear smart/casual attire.

It is getting harder and harder to police my dress code rules. Many of my colleagues aren’t based in the office full-time – they are on the road, selling. I’m thinking of asking every remote worker to submit a time-stamped selfie every morning to prove they are dressed to impress. Overkill? Sure I don’t mind if people wear smart casual clothes to work if they aren’t meeting clients… But then what about the times that last-minute meetings are scheduled? Or when you find yourself sitting opposite a prospect on the train and you’re in old jeans? That is just unacceptable.

‘Casual Friday’ is an American import and it looks like informal work attire is the latest trend that we’ve adopted from the US – but this isn’t America. Can you imagine if they relaxed the dress code at Wimbledon and allowed players to wear jogging bottoms in any colour? Those tennis whites denote professionalism and respect.

Am I the only one who still believes the suit belongs in the workplace? Let me know what you think, leave a comment below.

Martin Port
Founder & CEO

Read Next