Every man has his breaking point.
Like Michael Douglas in ‘Falling Down,’ a recent article in The Telegraph brought me perilously close to darkening the doors of McDonald’s
“Kiwi shoe polish to disappear as UK no longer cares about shiny shoes.”
I’ve blogged long and hard about the horrific demise in standards of dress in this country.
But it is in the workplace where most damage has been done, many of our business professionals (to quote ‘Withnail & I’) “reduced to the state of a bum.”
Big Tech are now the Rock Stars of Wall Street and ‘The Geeks have inherited the earth.’
They lounge on bean bags in grey hooded tops and sneakers, their sweatpants bulging with bitcoin, as we queue to buy their shiny devices, serving up a soul destroying soup of apps with the moreish qualities of crystal meth.
But hear this my friends.
We may have to communicate through them (Teams), we may have to shop with them (Amazon), we may even have to find love with them (Match.com) but we sure as hell don’t have to dress like them.
The article in The Telegraph explained that the armed forces, “accounts for more than half the polish sold globally.”
I brought this up with Joseph McNamara, a recent customer about to leave Sandhurst and start his career as an Army officer.
As he stood there in my showroom, resplendent in his new double-breasted chalk striped suit, I asked him why standards of dress are so important in the Armed Forces.
He said this:
“It’s about attention to detail. Doing the little things right and setting an example to those who look up to you. You might have been on exercise for eighteen hours with no sleep, but when you get back to barracks, you clean your rifle, powder your feet and polish your boots.”
“First impressions count. What would my unit think, if I turned up on parade in muddy boots?”
And that’s exactly what I’m talking about.
Would you trust a surgeon to operate on you, if you spotted during the consultation she had a dirty nail? How clean is that scalpel going to be??
Would you retain a lawyer with a button missing from his un-ironed shirt? Has he been bothered to read the small print of that contract??
Taking pride in one’s appearance extols the values of order and discipline, and the very act of dressing for work, gets your mind ready for work.
And the beauty is it works both ways.
Taking off that immaculate Michelsberg bespoke suit at the end of a long hard day and slipping into a Michelsberg smoking jacket and embroidered slippers, helps you wind down and relax.
“Are you listening to me, son? I’m givin’ you pearls here.” (Scent of a Woman)
Whilst The Pandemic and Working From Home have been blamed for sloppy dress, it is in truth our business generals and lieutenants who are responsible for allowing standards to slip so shockingly.
I suppose it’s understandable to some degree.
We’ve all to some extent been seduced by the highly influential, inspirational, talked-about scuffers of Palo Alto.
But enough is enough.
Business leaders of Yorkshire and beyond, I beseech you.
A puffa jacket worn with zippered v-neck sweater and trainers is fine for a Sunday stroll, but NOT the armour in which to lead your troops into commercial battle.
Start with baby steps at first – possibly introduce ‘dress-up Fridays.’
Lose the athleisure wear and go out for drinks after work dressed like ‘Reservoir Dogs.’
Trust me – it’ll bring you closer together and you’ll all feel an inch taller.
Dump the high tech walking shoes and invest in a pair of beautiful Wholecuts, Oxfords, or, Brogues.
Your Country needs You.
Kiwi Shoe polish needs you.
Do your Duty.