Somewhere in the fog of what shall, we call my formative years of education I remember my parents, teachers, coaches, and counselors scolding me on the dangers my appearance could have on my future. My baggy clothing, athletic sneakers, ear-piercings and fascination of tattoos would not be productive for me having financial success in the future. “You’ll never be able to get a job looking like that!” “You want your only options to be that of a ball-player or a rapper?” These scolding remarks are not only etched into my mind, but I’m sure to the minds of anyone else who happened to share the same classroom, school or even generation as myself. Fast-forward to 2018 and it appears pretty obvious that those same sentiments passed down from our parents and educators do not ring true in our current economic landscape. The expression of individuality is now seen as something that nurtures, not hinders, one’s economic climb in the marketplace.
This sudden shift in what we believe a businessman is supposed to look like is just another example of the times we live in; where rulebooks are constantly evolving and the lines between the Don Drapers and Mark Zuckerberg’s are increasingly blurrier.
Tattoos and piercings were once considered the looks of only scoundrels and delinquents, they weren’t attributed to respectable members of society. However, this stigma is diminishing along with each passing generation, as Pew Research Center reports that 40 percent of adults between the ages of 26-40 admit to having at least one tattoo.( http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2010/03/24/tattoo-taboo/) Compare that to just 10 percent of adults over 40. The reasons for this may vary, but seeing our society is gearing itself to be more open-minded and respectful towards individuality, tattoos are another, more permanent, a way for one to express themselves and their ideas. Now, this isn’t to say that the stigma behind tattoos have diminished completely and everyone should get their faces covered in ink, as most millennials with tattoos have decided to place them on areas of the body which can be covered by clothing when they need to.
When one use to imagine a person of business they would envision a 3-piece suit with a tie and cufflinks. Now one only has to imagine billionaires such as Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, who dress as if they’re on the way to the supermarket, not televised press conferences. Given how booming the tech industry is, it only makes sense that developers and programmers begin dressing more “professionally” right? Actually, no. It wouldn’t make sense at all. Think about it, the tech industry consists of those who work countless hours toiling away on computers working on algorithms and coding. Doesn’t it make more sense to imagine them wearing comfortable, casual clothing rather than some stiff and formal? Wouldn’t it be odd picturing Steve Jobs in anything other than dad jeans and a turtleneck sweater?
Virgil Abloh, one of the hottest fashion designers in the country and lead menswear director at Louis Vuitton, has stated that he believes “these days a hoodie is pretty much the new suit jacket.” Given that entrepreneurs are constantly on the move, shouldn’t their clothing grant them more flexibility, rather than restricting it? Not to say that anyone should immediately begin throwing out their suit jackets and slacks in exchange for blue jeans and tank tops, as a tailored suit will forever be a staple in any man’s closet, however, don’t be afraid to dress that suit down with a graphic tee or henley.
The days of wingtips and penny loafers are beginning to come to an end. As square-toed shoes give the impression that the wearer is more “squared” than competent, casual sneaker brands such as Vans and Adidas are becoming more associated with the footwear of “hustlers” and “go-getters.” Sneaker culture has taken over over the world as the market for luxury footwear has never been as prosperous and well-known thanks to the rise of social media. Due to its exclusivity and culmination of a large, “cult” like following, the perception of someone wearing a pair of Yeezy sneakers is significantly glossier than one wearing a pair of Johnston & Murphy’s. However, this doesn’t mean that sneakers have become the only option available to young entrepreneurs, as Chelsea boots have become a staple of those who want to look business-casual, yet sleek and stylish at the same time.
The same ways our views, on society, morals and tolerance have evolved, so has our perception of what defines a “successful” looking person. The internet has opened the doors for many young individuals to discover possibilities and craft opportunities for themselves than generations before could never even imagine. This led to a change in our thinking that promoted individuality and celebrated self-expression. Given that our voices have greater chances of being heard, we are no longer stuck with having to adhere to a certain model of success which requires one to look a particular way before they are worthy of being heard. In 2018, dressing for success simply means allowing your appearance to reflect who you truly are in a way others may find intriguing. Instead of looking the part, you’re revealing your truth. That will never go out of style.
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