What’s the Dress Code

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” — The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander, Benjamin Zander


Over the summer I had an interesting conversation in one of the men’s restrooms at the Minneapolis airport.

As I was washing my hands an extremely sharp dress young man joined me at the sink next to mine. Seeing him dressed in a full blown suit and tie with dress hanky included took me by surprise.

I’m used to the occasional sports coat thrown over a wrinkled shirt with jeans and causal shoes, but a suit and tie!? What gives?

“You’re sure looking sharp today,” I said.

He promptly responded, “Statistically, an airport is the number one place you may meet someone who can help you advance in your career and I want to look appropriate if I meet that person.”

Having a couple of churches in need of a pastor I almost offered him a church right there.

The dress code is something I’ve had to think about a lot for the last several years. Almost weekly I attend an event or travel to a place that I’ve never been before. Most of the time these travels require me to pack a suitcase. What do I pack? What is the dress code? This is standard fare for me.

I finally came up with a way to solve this dilemma.

I don’t start with what the dress code is, I start with how I want to represent myself, and more importantly how do I want to represent those I represent and most importantly how do I want to represent the One who gave me life.

Answering those questions takes care of most of my dress code issues.

What about you?

I’m certainly not pressing my preferences on you. But I hope you’re not letting others press their preferences on you either.

What I am asking is…

  • How do you want to represent yourself?
  • How do you want to represent those you represent?
  • How do you want to represent God?

I remember attending a conference in Atlanta, GA a few years ago that catered especially to young Christian leaders. There were some amazing speakers there. I did notice, however, that there were only two that got a standing ovation. Both of them were older statemen (in their 70’s). They both missed the dress code memo and showed up in full suit and tie.

Was it the way they dressed that impressed those thousands of young leaders? Of course not. It was their authenticity, integrity, and long life of service that moved those kids that day.

But, being an old guy myself, I couldn’t help but chuckle a little that it wasn’t the “cool guys” that stood out the most that day but rather two old suit-wearing guys.

And here’s the deal, if you can manage to live long enough, you will be an “old guy” (or gal) and nobody will be surprised if you’re not in tune with the latest styles. The question is, why should they be surprised now?

The ONE THING for today: Come as you are, but show up at your best.