Should You Dress Like Your Boss?


Have you ever noticed that people conform?

If your boss comes into work wearing a pin strip suit it will spread.  Before you know it, there will be wall to wall pin stripes.

If your boss is more of a creative type — skinny jeans and a hipster beard — then you can rest assured that facial hair will become all the rage.

People conform, it is human nature, we are tribal.

The upside

Conformity is great:

  • It makes us feel like we belong
  • It prevents disagreements
  • It reduces personal risk

Can you have a risk free disagreement with your boss?  Even if it is only about the colour of his suit? Conformity protects.

The downside

Once you start to conform then it won’t only be your clothes.  You will also start to think the same way as everybody else.  You will like the same things and see the same problems.  It is inevitable.

Agreement and consensus aren’t always good.

Uninformed consensus around a bad decision doesn’t stop it being a bad decision.

Agreeing with bad decisions, just to keep the status quo, is a very risky way to run a business.

Besides which, unless you are in your twenties, skinny jeans are a mistake.  No matter where you work.

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Image by paolobarzman


  1. Hello James,

    The safest behaviour in a group is to conform. Wasn’t it Stanley Milligram that showed that most folks blindly follow the dictates of the authority figures. He used that to suggest that there was nothing exceptional about the German people under Hitler. I suspect we will see the same occur in TrumpUSA.

    If one makes a bad business decision by conforming who pays the cost? The business. If one challenges authority figures / goes against corporate policies who is almost certain to pay the price? The individual. So, why pay the price. It is not a smart move to challenge authority if you are a wage slave – most of are wage slaves even those that earn high wages.

    Talking about conformity and bad decisions. What is your take on Brexit? It occurs to me that given the state of the world as it is today, Brexit occurs as a bad decision. And it is conformity to the past, blind obedience to prejudice, that is keeping us on the hard Brexit path and into the arms of Trump – he is likely to do much more than grab the British pusssy.

  2. Trump USA is a fascinating case in point.

    As for Brexit? I suspect it will be a long time before the dust settles there. After all 51.9% is a “clear” majority.

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