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Black America Responds To Advice To Always Wear Suits In Corporate America, Even If Everyone Else Is Casual


Work attire in corporate America has definitely changed post-pandemic. Working remotely, employees got used to dressing in leisurewear such as sweats and comfy clothes. And now as people return to the office, work attire rules have loosened. Suits are no longer the attire of the day for men.

“Even before the pandemic, Americans were dressing more casually at work. The time spent in sweats accelerated the shift from ‘business casual’ to ‘business comfort,’” Fortune reported.

Adam Galinsky is a social psychologist at Columbia Business School who coined the term “enclothed cognition” to describe how the clothes people wear affect the way they think.

Galinsky predicted that business attire could go more casual — or not. “People are going to be consciously thinking about: ‘Am I wearing the right outfit for being in the office?’ They’re going to be thinking about what they’re doing, the context they’re in, and the social comparisons of what others will be doing,” he said.

Not everyone agrees that business attire should be more casual.

A Twitter user @TheeMrEnJ cautioned Black men in corporate America against following the business comfort trend. Black men should wear suits, he wrote.

“As a Black man in corporate America, I don’t think we should EVER come to work in ‘casual’ clothes. Let them other people come in t shirts, jeans, hoodies, etc, NOT YOU. YOU get your ass up, GET DRESSED and walk through that building like you own it!!!!” Is I’m Fun? @TheeMrEnJ tweeted.

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Being well-dressed has long been a tradition in Black America as a way to counteract racist views — and in some ways, to stay safe. In 2015, Mashable published an article about how some Black men avoided wearing hoodies after the 2012 murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Trayvon was wearing a hoodie as he walked home after buying candy from a 7-11, when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch leader in Sanford, Florida.

“There’s this notion of African American males who have chosen to dress in a way that disarms the blackness and the potential for being seen as more Black than human,” said Emmett Price, author of the book “Hip Hop Culture” and a professor at Northeastern University. “In society today, dressing up has become a life or death choice.”

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Is I’m Fun?’s tweet sparked a flood of responses. Many agreed with him.

“Yup!!! I love to see my corporate ppl dressed fully. By the looks of this thread folks must’ve forgotten that we are just getting on the other side of these doors. You don’t have the luxury of dress down anything. Smarten up!” Big Vic XXX tweeted.

“Twitter is full of people giving bad advice but this isn’t one of those instances. Going the extra mile and caring about your work is a good thing no matter what people on Twitter try to tell you,” tweeted Politiks Common.

Others on Twitter thought the issues were deeper than the clothes.

“A lot to unpack here. 1) There’s data to suggest psychological benefits of dressing up for work. 2) Companies that support inclusiveness understand the importance of allowing its people to show up as their authentic selves. 3) The history of professionalism is worth exploring,” tweeted Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

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