There is a school of thought that our appearance and, in particular, how we dress and present ourselves not only says a lot about us but also affects our conduct.  In a business setting, the theory goes that if you are well dressed and look professional you will more likely act professional.

When I practiced law full time, I subscribed to this theory and would dress in a suit and tie whenever I went to work.  I was well dressed even if I was not expecting to meet clients or go to court.  I simply felt that it was appropriate to be well dressed and have a professional demeanor regardless of whether or not I was going to be seen by anybody.   I was a professional and wanted to look the part for my own self respect as well as for the respect of others.

USFSB does not routinely have scheduled visitors and we rarely have members or business associates drop in unexpectedly.  This lends itself to a very casual atmosphere which was reflected in the fact that the employees dressed very informally unless we had a meeting or a visitor scheduled and then everyone would dress up for that day.

When USFSB became my primary workplace, I still could not dress down for work even though I accepted the fact that the employees dressed very casually.  Some former employees took this too far by wearing sweat pants and other attire that I thought was too sloppy for even a casual work environment, but, since my brother had allowed it I did not want to take a hard stand and insist on a dress code.

As I put my law practice on the back burner, I started to succumb to the freedom of a more casual wardrobe while at USFSB.  I became convinced that I could still act in a professional manner and effectively operate USFSB without the need to wear a suit or other dressy clothes.  Over time, casual pants and polo shirts became the order of the day unless I was going to have a business meeting or greet a visitor.  When Annemarie came to USFSB, she had a problem with the fact that there was no dress code and, to this day, it is still something she and I debate from time to time.

I think that the business world, in general, has become more casual and does not stand on the ceremonies and rituals that sustained the decorum of business and professional people in the past.  I now believe that I can be professional even if I don’t look the part.  Do clothes make the man or woman or can we be more than what we wear?