Professional Wardrobe: Creative vs. Traditional fields (images)

This post hopes to de-mystify dress codes in Creative Industries vs. Traditionally-run organizations by providing very broad and simplistic descriptions of each.  Obviously, while professionalism is tantamount in all organizations, there are differences in acceptable office wear depending on the organization.**


image 1





What defines a “creative industry”
Generally, “creative” companies in various sectors create ‘widgets’ that are unique and based on intellectual inspiration.  Creative fields include: advertising, architecture, publishing, software, art, design, fashion, film, music, games, TV, video games, etc….

“Judging from her fashion, I would imagine that Kelly sees design as the proper combination of key pieces. Take a look at these more casual ensembles, for example. Each is a much simpler silhouette with a more every day aesthetic, but there is an eye catching quality to each.” 


Since innovation is key, creative workplaces value and reward individuals who can think “outside-the-box” and create inspiration.  Usually, employees work within small teams on specific projects.  The teams are focused on successfully finishing projects in a profitable and timely fashion. 

Have you seen anything like this on the market?
Where one might find status symbols of wealth and success in traditional corporations expressed in styles that boast of heritage and a craftsmanship, (i.e. Mont Blanc pens, heirloom jewelry, Rolex watches, cuff links, boarding school affiliated insignia, Hermes scarves, Louis Vuitton luggage, etc…), in fields where human intellect and originality affect products and profit, the more esoteric the referenced aesthetic, the more value the individual is deemed to add.  Professionals dress in ways that differentiate themselves to signify their individual brand of creativity.

Interaction among team members and the exchange of ideas are encouraged. As a result, professional dress in these fields often serve as opportunities by which to display creativity, intellect and imagination (image 1).  Having a well-defined personal aesthetic becomes shorthand for brilliance and originality.  What new idea can this person bring to the group?  


The creative individual’s personal “brand” is the value they add to their organization, thus, they wear their brand proudly on their sleeve.


Uzo of Nars Cosmetics dictating her own brand of professional-wear.  She is a recognized for the originality she contributes to her field.  She is paid to think outside the box.  Her individuality and creative discoveries inspire others in her field.

Established business models:
Traditional corporate environments emphasize the organization’s vision, and each employee’s objective is to execute orders given from the top of the chain.  There is less importance placed on a person’s uniqueness. If you’re not in position to command orders, you’re not being paid to come up with ideas.  Ideas and best practices are provided to you. 

In other words, each group or functional division operates as one unit (read: everyone dresses alike) carrying out tasks outlined by the head of their departments.  A blueprint for how things are done most effectively is in place and provides guidelines for the most efficient way tasks should be carried out.

The focus is on the organization as a whole and the objective is to carry-out processes vital for the organization’s life.  Innovative ideas are provided by the organization’s leaders whose experience and expertise provide the group with the best direction to take.  Leadership in these organizations are paid to figure things out and make decisions;
others are paid to carry them out.  


“Separately, we are organized, results-driven and efficient.  Together, we are a well-functioning machine that will ensure your day-to-day operations are run effectively.”
These environments function well when individuals are consistent, predictable and view themselves as part of the whole. In other words, bold and “outside-the-box” thinking and clothing distract and disrupt the efficiency of a functioning streamlined process.  Imagine how disruptive it would be if we introduced a blood cell with fabulously glittered fuschia hotpants and the latest chloe jacket to a group of uniformly efficient red blood cells delivering blood to an organism’s heart.  In other words, shocking your team with your originality may debilitate the team’s ability to function and affect the livelihood of the organization as a whole.

“Our business unit has a process in place that can produce those widgets in half the time.  We, as a unit, are important to the organization’s bottom line.”
Each individual piece must fit well and operate under the same cadence to make the machine run smoothly.


“Hi, everyone.  I look just like my teammates in my collared, button-up shirt, and neutral-colored palette.  Also, this practical handbag carries useful tools making me a productive member of the organization.”


The corporate palette is simple:  grays, black and navy suits.  From topical view, groups are seen as one.  Again, the culture emphasizes efficiency, order and respect for an established blueprint.  There is a defined uniform.


“Give me an assignment, and you can consider it done.  I have a Navy Seals background and my goal is to help carry our team forward.”

While I make broad generalizations to illustrate my points, each office has its own culture and a smart job candidate will observe his/her surroundings to gain an understanding of culture.  Until then, prevent being a distraction by erring on the traditional side and observe people to understand what is generally acceptable in your new office environment.

Any healthy and productive organization will incorporate elements of each “type” in varying degrees depending on short-term and long-term goals.


CONCLUSION:

Whether and how individuality is expressed will depend on your field, company and immediate team.  Some professional environments invite individual taste to encourage exchange of ideas between team-members.  More established companies with operations in place will demand new employees to work according to their guidelines.  In both cases, the goal is to be professional, respectful and appropriately dressed.  Observation of one’s surroundings is the best way to tell what is considered acceptable in your new environment.

image 1

(**note: representations of “styles” in the above images are in sterile and generic form to illustrate points more clearly.  We understand this is not necessarily an accurate representation of groups as wholes.  Again, images are for demonstrative purposes only. Thanks.)

Source(s):
Imaginization:  The Art of Creative Management (business models)
Kelly Wearstler article by the NY Post

Harper Bazaar’s How to Dress for Success article

 

 

 

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