The 2018 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony, although flawlessly executed, was no match for the London 2012 Danny Boyle directed segment, where Her Majesty the Queen was escorted to the Olympic Stadium by James Bond.
The extraordinary thing, however, about the Pyeongchang ceremony, was the considerable media interest in the “outfits” worn during the Parade of Nations. Huffington Post, Forbes and The Washington Post, to name three, all weighed in on who wore what. Although Forbes referred to the clothing as uniforms, HuffPost stuck and stayed with “outfits.”
Technically, what the teams wore qualifies as uniforms according to the Wikipedia definition: “A uniform is a type of clothing worn by members of an organization while participating in that organization’s activity.”
Although “outfit” captures the modern sensibility of this athletic clothing, what resonated with us was how the Parade of Nations underscored the parallel worlds of Olympians and corporate teams. It all boils down to recognizing the importance of an organization’s dress code, effectively its uniform.
Clearly, there is far more latitude in the corporate universe but the underlying message is the same. The Olympian and appropriately dressed business professional are saying with their clothing, “I am proud to be a member of this team.”
The catch is appropriately dressed. With so many clothing choices, unlike the Olympians where strict regulations apply, it’s easy to adopt an anything-goes assumption about office apparel. The fact is, there is rarely a wide-open playing field when it comes to corporate clothing. This is not to suggest rigid rules exists – the exception being law and finance – but a reminder about impressions and judgments. Just as the media reporting on the Opening Ceremony passed many less than favorable pronouncements, everyday office apparel comes under close scrutiny, analysis and criticism.
There’s no question that the long-abandoned inflexible dress codes have no place in today’s workplace and yet, people are often insensitive to the importance of observation. How does the C-Suite dress? What about senior leaders? And managers? These executives set the benchmark – and expectations – for the entire team. This is the first step to understanding the parameters of often unspoken but implied guidelines of what’s appropriate. The second step is adopting these principles.
Dress to progress is a fact of corporate life. Meticulous personal grooming and an impeccable, professional appearance – that observes the same standards as one’s peers – are mandatory for advancement.
An observation regarding the various media writing about the Parade of Nations is the unanimous, shared point of view. It’s a though they were all watching the proceedings in the same room! This speaks volumes about the universality of the choosing the right apparel. Check out the articles:
The Huffington Post
The Washington Post