I have long been a proponent of function over fashion. Maybe it's my total aversion to physical discomfort, but I just could never get behind spending the limited time I have on this earth with sore feet, or pants that make it hard to sit down, no matter how good they look. In fact, I would literally spend my life in a series of rotating sweat suits if only it were socially acceptable.
And I'm not saying that I roam the streets and workplace in my desired uniform (a.k.a. sweats and/or flannel pajamas). I'm a savvy enough person to know that my preferred choice of clothing would do more harm than good for me professionally (if not outright get me fired). So at the office or on any official business I stay within the expected and even "fashionable" arena. But I also know that the second I get home I'll be changing into clothes I actually want to be wearing, and I know this is generally true of most everyone else I know.
So why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we, as thinking, rational creatures create a code of conduct that actively doesn't feel good? Many people will argue that formal business attire increases worker productivity. But the actual consensus on this is hazy at best, and there has never actually been a single scientific study that supports it (and just ask the infamously casual yet immensely productive tech culture of Silicon Valley for some anecdotal evidence to the contrary).
I've also heard people say it's a matter of self-respect. That the way you present yourself to the world is a reflection of how you believe others should treat you; that taking pride in your appearance is a way of showing pride in yourself. And to this I can only muster a half-hearted "meh." I often feel just the opposite. I generally don't care what others think of my style choices or appearance because I have self-respect and pride from within. I'm confident in what I have to offer when it comes to my mind and my ability to articulate my thoughts. Shouldn't that be the better measure of self-love?
And others have just said, "Hey -- at the end of the day, we're animals, and we want to look attractive. It's the most natural thing in the world." My first response to this is simply, wait -- isn't the workplace one of the spaces we definitely shouldn't be worrying about how attractive we are? And furthermore, I'm sitting here in front of an electric box that connects me with millions of other living souls, getting ready to file my taxes, and thinking about how I need to remember to pick up Drano for my shower. I think it's safe to say we as humans have moved far passed the "we're all just animals" stage of existence. I don't buy that we're all just slaves to our instincts or don't have it in us to overcome "animalistic" tendencies.
So why do we do it? Why do we -- myself included -- consent to put ourselves through daily discomfort when we could literally all be working in a mecca of velour suits with elastic waistbands and cozy slippers? I genuinely don't know but am curious what others think. And in the meantime, I'll be the one at my desk waiting for the workplace revolution to come, Snuggie at the ready.