My Story

Get a Suit!

I was recently involved in a conversation where I was told that I need to get a suit. Looking at the person a bit shocked, I replied “I have a suit!”. “Get another” was the response, before it was back tracked a little bit. Although there was no malice in the comment, it did get me thinking about how there seems to be two types of businessmen in todays world. Some that are old school business people, suit, tie, serious, successful, whereas there is also a new breed of businessmen coming through. Relaxed, still successful, but more carefree.

The obvious person that comes to mind when talking about the latter is Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook. When Facebook first come to our shores, Mark Zuckerberg was wearing jeans/t-shirt and a hoody, not much has changed since. Of all the pictures that I have seen of him and there are quite a few, I don’t think I have ever seen him wearing a conventional suit! Does that make him any less clever? Does it mean that he shouldn’t be taken seriously? I’d hope not! He is the youngest billionaire and has transformed life as we know it, with the creation of the largest social network on the planet. Some would say he is the president of a global force, 1 billion people wouldn’t disagree. But that is not the point, the point is I believe he wears those because he feels comfortable in them, and it doesn’t matter who he is speaking to.

Image courtesy of

I am not sure how true a representation the image above is, but if it is true that is an amazing statement. Of all the people those businessmen saw that day, who do you think stuck out in their minds? The people in suits, slick pitches but the same over and over, or the guy who turned up in his Pyjamas and blew them away with his knowledge, idea and vision? I know which would stick out in my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to turn up in your PJs, that would take some guts. But I do want you to dress for the occasion rather than dressing how you are being told to, or what makes others feel comfortable.

Dress for the occasion!

This is key. If you are going to a party, you dress for the occasion. If it is a fancy dress party you will wear fancy dress for the theme that has been provided. Similarly you would wear a suit and tie to a wedding, whilst I’d assume you would wear more casual wear if you’re out on a Saturday night with a few friends.

Being in business is no different, and the digital marketing industry, as are many others are as relaxed as they come. We no longer where trousers and a shirt to the office on a daily basis, it is more likely to be jeans and a t-shirt. If it is hot, I may even sport a pair of shorts and very occasionally flip-flops. We are that type of industry. We are creative, and should be creative in personality. Whether that is from your hair, to your dress sense, it doesn’t stop you from performing at the highest level.

This should also filter across to meetings, whether they be external or internal. Now there will be times you need a suit, and they are mentioned below, but the majority of the time you will be fine dressing business casual. If you are going to a client meeting, a pair of shoes, jeans and a shirt in my opinion is just fine.

A suit is required, occasionally….

I am not saying that suits are not required at all in digital marketing, because they are. I am still of the opinion that if you are going to pitch for business then you go smart and present smart, this will give you the best chance of winning new business. Don’t get me wrong, wearing a suit doesn’t make you better that somebody who isn’t wearing a suit, but I feel it provides a good first impression.

Other times that you would wear a suit, is when you are presenting to a board of directors. Most boards go by the old school way of business, with suit and ties, so it makes sense that you at least wear a suit to these type of meetings. However, there are some companies that are moving away from that kind of meeting to a more informal, fresh and modern approach.

Another time that you might be more likely to wear a suit, is if you work in Financial Services. Although they are adapting slowly, they don’t wear ties now. They are still a very smart industry, and I can understand that. So, if you are going to a meeting with someone in the Financial Services industry, 9/10 you would want to wear a suit. You don’t want to be in a meeting feeling underdressed and uncomfortable.

Other than these couple of occasions, and those mentioned previously, I struggle to justify wearing a suit. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about wearing a suit in Digital Marketing and when it is required?

Not everyone is going to be like Mark Zucherberg, but it does show that you don’t have to be a sheep and follow the heard to be successful in business, you just need to be amazing at it. It should be about what you can deliver, not what you are wearing!!

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6 replies on “Get a Suit!”

Just playing devils advocate here Dan.

I worked for a German company who installed the mentality that if you dress smart you think smart. Also consider how your dress may be perceived by clients in a service industry. If you dress to relaxed would clients then think that if you are that relaxed, would that reflect how you approached their project?

On the flip side I totally agree with your points about being relaxed and something we are currently reconsidering here.

Cheers for the comment Robert. I think this is where you need to dress for the occasion. I am not saying that you go to a pitch in jeans and a t-shirt, but its more when you have a relationship with the client. You can become more relaxed in your dress-sense. I think you could say that if you are dressed in a suit all-day everyday in our industry, you may not be able to be as creative as you could if you felt comfortable. I came across a comment recently where they said you are more creative after an alcoholic drink, because you are more relaxed. It is all relative of-course.

Interesting topic! When I was at university training to be a journalist, my lecturer (a successful journalist) told me that he always carries a tie in his pocket because you never know when you are going to need it.

“Wearing a tie”, he said “is officially smart”. If he found himself being sent to report on something important, he wouldn’t get in unless he had a tie on.

It is the same as spelling when you write, spelling is subjective; as long as your reader understands what you are saying it doesn’t matter how you spell your words, but in order to avoid questions over our abilities and to avoid misunderstanding we ensure that we follow the accepted conventions of spelling.

Wearing a suit is ‘officially smart’, it is an accepted social standard. Wear a suit when you have a requirement to be ‘officially smart’, it probably won’t affect what you are doing positively, but not wearing a suit can negatively impact on your agenda if questions arise about how ‘officially smart’ you look or not.

Thanks for the comment Paul. I agree that a suit is widely accepted as dressing smart. I think that wearing a suit, is coming less common in the digital marketing industry. I know there are specific reasons, as mentioned in my post, but the large majority of meetings can take place wearing smart casual clothing. This creates a much more relaxed atmosphere, allowing for a more creative environment.

Nice post Dan.

When visiting a new client, I will usually wear a shirt and trousers (no tie).

Once familiar with the client, I’ll usually just wear upgraded office wear (jeans & shirt).

When REALLY familiar with the client, they’ll usually visit us in the office, and see us in all our disheveled glory (t-shirt, jeans, trainers, beard).

That’s not to say I don’t have a suit, or enjoy dressing for the occasion; it’s actually become pleasant to wear a suit and tie because it rarely happens. It would be misleading to go to a client in this getup, since they may think they’re entering in to a corporate relationship, and this simply isn’t how we operate! If we lose a client because of a lack of tie, so be it!

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