Steve Everbach: Dressed for Success?

Steve Everbach

When I was growing up (still am in many ways), I used to watch with pride as my dad walked out to go to work in his suit, perfectly pressed shirt and tie, newly polished shoes and matching belt. He epitomized the successful professional and took great pride in how he looked. He didn’t even work for a service company, where one has frequent communication with clients; he simply believed in setting an example for others with whom he worked. This was an example instilled in me that I follow to this day.

It may just be me and my “old fashioned” ways, but while sitting outside the other day at one of the nicest office buildings in our fair city, I watched working professionals walk by who were dressed like they were in high school or on their way to a heavy metal concert—OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. I observed dress shirts hanging out (I guess that is “cool”), jeans (including those with fashionable holes), t-shirts, tattoos, flip-flops, and multiple visible body piercings. These did not appear to be uneducated, unemployed individuals. They were young professionals working for companies in one of the most prestigious areas in Dallas.

What happened to the standard of dress in the business world? What happened to people taking pride in how they look? I sat there shaking my head, pondering the answers to this question. I don’t necessarily enjoy putting on a suit and tie every day, but do so because of my belief that how one presents himself or herself affects other aspects of your life—personal and professional.

There was a book once given to me called Dress for Success. I didn’t read the entire book because, thanks to my father, I already followed its guidelines. I think I may buy some copies and start handing them out. Based on my recent observations I hope the recipients read the entire book and then pass it on—but only after they tuck in their shirt.


  • Jack

    Never judge a book by it’s cover

  • Kelly

    I couldn’t agree more! I’m ashamed of my generation and the lack of pride they take in their appearance.

  • Eduardo

    So you and your father are the only people who know how to dress properly? That sounds sort of arrogant and narrow-minded.

  • Michael

    Style is a very subjective form of self expression. For myself, I started dressing more “casually” because I found that I was more productive when I was more comfortable. I work with many young professionals who feel more comfortable wearing suits and ties everyday. I am grateful that so many companies are encouraging (and trusting) their employees to dress comfortably. While at the same time, allowing them the opportunity to express themselves through fashion. Our world is changing (maybe even evolving) and I believe that a large part of what makes our world, country, state, city and companies great is…diversity.

    What @Jack said above has never been more true…you never know when the tattooed, torn-jeans, t-shirt wearing dude sitting next to you at Starbucks is actually the CEO that you’re there to meet for coffee

  • Rissa Smith

    @Jack- if you saw a book on the sidewalk with bird poop on it, would you want to pick it up and read it? …didn’t think so…

    There is a difference between being trendy and looking sloppy and unkempt.

  • Bob

    “tattoos…and multiple visible body piercings” have nothing to do with a person’s ability to be competent or professional. Likewise, a suit and tie for men, and the requisite stockings for women, mean nothing when it really just comes down to one’s work product. Steve, you really need to overcome your judgemental tendencies.

  • Jack

    Rissa, Would I pick up a book with bird poop on it? No. Would I assume it was a inferior book because a bird pooped on it? No Would I assume that a person with tattoos or wearing jeans was a less valued employee? No, that would be bigoted!

  • LJT

    I have to agree with Jack on that one. @Rissa, that was kind of a “crappy” analogy. Ha ha

  • Rissa


    If the firm were “professional” to begin with, that particular person would not be an employee; therefore, their value would not ever come into question.

    Professional is defined as “(1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace”

    If an employee wants to have tattoos and piercings in the workplace perhaps they should work at a tattoo and piercing shop. In that environment it would be completely acceptable and appropriate.

  • josh habib

    Who says people with tattoos, piercings and untucked shirts don’t take pride in how they look? You are implying that a suit and tie is the only way to dress respectfully and professionally, which is a bit antiquated and short-sighted. Our creative and working juices all flow differently.

  • Jack

    Rissa, by your own definitions, tattoo’s and dress have nothing to do with being a professional. Attire is not covered by ethical or or technical standards. Steve Jobs and Zuckerberg are/were both jeans guys, are they not professional? What about Richard Branson? Is he not a professional? What about Mitt Romney? He wore jeans to a rally last week, is he unprofessional? Many news reporters wear jeans and have tatoos, you may not see the jeans/tattoos on air because they are hidden by the desk. However, when they walk in and out of the building their jeans and tattoos may show. Does that make them unprofessional?