An industry analyst who recently met with Zuckerberg about investment plans in Facebook stated that he thought Zuckerberg’s trademark hoodie is ‘a mark of immaturity’, implying that he should have been more suitably dressed for the business meeting.
Over on Google+, Robert Scoble posted about the analyst’s comment, which unleashed the most active community discussion that I’ve ever seen on G+ as a result of a single post. Opinions ranged wildly, but the activity in the discussion proves the absurdity and out of date thinking behind the expectation that professional business atire should be nothing other than suit, shirt and tie.
Times change, fashions change. The suit in today’s world is an absurd form of clothing. It has no practical benefits and is purely for show. This is my key issue – I don’t see how a suit is relevant in today’s world (in the software development world that I live in, at least) – wearing a suit does not make anyone a better software developer. It does not gift the developer with magical coding skills. It’s purely for show.
The popular saying ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ hits the nail on the head with this issue. Wearing a suit is nothing more than a cover on a book. As the other expression goes, ‘first impressions count’, but the fact is, once you’ve got beyond that faux outer layer to discover the contents of the person that has wrapped themselves in fancy, overpriced fabrics, it’s hard to hide the facts without the flashy threads. In software development, you can either code or you can’t. You either gel with the team, or you don’t. You perform or you don’t. Each of these have varying levels of degree, but the key point is this: a suit is nothing more than fancy plumage. Remove the outer shell and show me what you’ve got.
There’s some awesome comments to Scoble’s post that capture my thoughts entirely, that I’d like to quote here that make the point perfectly:
"wearing a tie doesn't make you money, not unless you sell ties"
"If you need to wear a costume to play out your roles, you should have become an actor or actress long ago"