He's A Suit -- And Proud Of It

Last Updated Dec 9, 2009 10:30 AM EST

Although my current work wear is business casual, I've had to don a suit at various stops in my career. I've always considered the corporate uniform something of a bother. It's a fuss to match shirts and ties, and to get that half-windsor knot just so. The cleaning bills were not trivial. I never found my off-the-rack duds all that comfortable.

But Harvard Business Publishing blogger David Silverman puts a different spin on suits in his piece, What Your Suit Says About You. He likes the fact that he no longer worries about whether his choice of clothing for the day will match up appropriately with what his customers are wearing. Suits are (almost) always acceptable business wear.

But there's something more to a suit than comfortable conformity, says he.

When I teach my class of college students, themselves arrayed in garb ranging from gaudy to grunge to garbage I say, "Why do I wear a suit? Because it's easy, yes. Because it makes me feel professional, yes. But also because it shows respect. Putting on a suit tells the person I meet with that I value them enough to dress up for them.
Do you like wearing a suit at work? How does it make you feel? Do you feel respected when you meet with a suit-wearing man or woman?

(Suit image by quinn.anya, CC 2.0)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.