There's something I always hear when people first walk into my agency VaynerMedia's offices. It goes a little something like this: "Wow, it's so casual! Everyone is in jeans and t-shirts! Doesn't that affect professionalism?" I get it. It can be jarring for some people. But I always have the same response: content is king, but context is God.
Usually when I say that, I’m talking about the principles that I laid out in my book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook, which takes you through the do's and don'ts of creating great content for social media platforms. But when it comes to office dress code, the same fundamentals apply.
Let me explain.
If you were to walk in to VaynerMedia on your first day wearing a suit and a tie, you would stick out like a sore thumb. Our dress code is exceptionally casual by historical business standards. Why? Because it speaks to the environment that stems from the top, aka, me. I never want to dress up too shnazzy. That's just not me.
In a company, things like culture and dress code and work ethic stem from the top. So it makes sense that Vayner reflects that part of my personality. But our relaxed view on office attire also speaks to an increasingly changing modern day workplace, a charge lead primarily by tech companies. We're clearly moving to a more casual environment where hoodies and jeans are a suit to the most professional in the industry.
Of course, the reverse is also true. If I decided to sell all my assets, start over, and start a firm on Wall Street, I would go into my first day dressed in a Jets jersey there, too! Because I would be setting that context. Despite the pre-existing uniform of Wall Street, culture comes from leaders.
See what I’m saying? It all comes down to context. To say that professionalism is one way or the other is complete insanity. To a twenty-five year old startup guy or gal, professionalism is a hoodie and jeans. To a fifty-three year old Madison Avenue executive, professionally dressed is, at the bare minimum, a dress shirt and jacket. Context. And as these two worlds collide, you start getting a mix. Some people are wearing hoodies on Wall Street, and we do Formal Friday at VaynerMedia.
Over the next decade as these worlds come together, they will become all one and the same. Professionalism will be agnostic.