Mark Zuckerberg's hoodie has created quite a stir over the past week. The fact that he wore it during a very important presentation has caused some to criticise him and other to explain that this makes him look more mature. It is a fascinating clash of cultures; a bunch of high-powered suits who probably all look the same needing the judgements and thoughts of a young guy in a hoodie.
Let's face it, we are all prejudice when it comes to clothing. If I go into a shop in a suit, the difference in how I am treated compared to visiting the same shop at the weekend in a pair of jeans, trainers and a scruffy shirt is stark. We all judge strangers by their clothes; how much money they have, what job they do and where they live. It is natural and can be a visible indicator of who the person really is.
So why do so many companies want their employees to dispense with their personal images and to all wear the same clothing? I have been in countless meetings where everyone is wearing suits. I tend to find myself looking at the cut and quality of the suits to spot differences and I don't know why. No matter what suits we are all wearing, we still all conform to some random dress code that exists for no good reason.
That was then and I haven't worn a suit for 18 months. I never wear a tie these days and neither do most work colleagues I know. Time has moved on and people are slowly starting to realise that individual clothing is a sign of strength rather than unprofessionalism. A large group of people wearing the exact same clothing suggests a collective that all think similarly. Like the Borg, but even more frightening. A group of people who don't think for themselves, but who all have the same goals as their employer, the mother ship. "You shall wear a suit, tie, red braces and good quality shoes. Customers expect that of you."
It's all nonsense of course and Zuckerberg can wear whatever he likes because he doesn't need to conform. Steve Jobs wore what he liked and most employees in the computer industry wear what they like. It is the person that counts and not their outward appearance. We all have different faces, different hair and builds so why all wear the same clothes? When you really think about it, none of it makes sense at all.
I have always believed that employees should be able to wear what they like and have long fought for that against colleagues who felt otherwise with the teams they managed. If a customer does not like what I wear and pre-judges me, that is their problem. Not mine.