Advertisement

The Whiteboard Jungle: Dressing professionally helps direct ‘internal self’

File this story under the heading, “Can’t these politicians think of a more important issue to tackle than this?”

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris wants to ban companies from mandating that workers wear neckties.

Advertisement

Parris is basing his proposal on a small German study he found online that examined blood flow to the brain in men wearing ties, finding a 7.5% drop in circulation in men wearing the ties compared to the group not wearing them.

First of all, one doesn’t need to have a doctorate degree in scientific methodology to know that a study size of 30 participants is insufficient. Second, just how tight were those ties tied?

Advertisement

In interviews, Parris expresses a predisposed disdain for ties despite having to wear one as an attorney in the courtroom. When he came across this shaky evidence that a tie causes harm, he was ready to take a “Mission Impossible” leap over credulity.

Parris’ law firm focuses on personal injury cases with “over $1.4 billion won,” as claimed on its website, so it’s not surprising that he is wasting taxpayer time on a nanny state matter such as regulating employers’ dress codes. By the way, his photo is the most prominent on the website and, yes, he is wearing a tie.

When one looks around and sees how poorly people dress all the time, the last thing we need is a law forcing people to look less dressed up.

We are living at a time when people dress like slobs everywhere they go. Men’s attire these days often consists of a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops whether at work, attending a theatrical performance or dining at an upscale restaurant.

In “You Are What You Wear: Rude,” L.A. Times columnist Meghan Daum wrote that people dress as if everyone else around them were invisible. They really don’t care what anyone else thinks; “Do whatever you want” is the mantra.

Many experts think that dressing up instills confidence and power. Baltimore clinical psychologist Jennifer Baumgartner told Forbes magazine that "when you dress in a certain way, it helps shift your internal self” similar to actors who by “putting on a costume facilitates expression of character.” Think of work clothes as superhero outfits.

My wife works from home once a week. Even though she does not leave the house, she wears business clothes as if she were at her office Why? “It’s a part of my professional attire.”

A 2014 study by the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that when participants wore doctor’s lab coats, they not only were perceived smarter, but they made fewer mistakes because of what they wore. In another example, people dressed in suits negotiated better business deals than those dressed in sweats.

Where I work, I am the outlier wearing sport jackets and ties. Not even some male administrators wear that attire. Schools often talk about dress codes for students; there should be one for teachers.

One student teacher I worked with asked me how to dress for Back to School Night. I told him to wear a tie; he told me that he didn’t own one. And he was 40 years old.

A much younger student teacher wore concert T-shirts and white sneakers every day to work. Office messengers would often mistake her for a student and end up giving me the summons. We would not want to confuse doctors with patients based on how they dressed, would we?

Let’s hope Mr. Parris doesn’t come across a study on the internet concluding that wearing underpants constricts blood flow to the heart.

Advertisement
Advertisement