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I was invited to submit an article to Pinnacle Magazine. Here were the results to my assigned topic. “New Generation of Entrepreneurs”

“The World Goes Crazy for a Sharp Dressed Man”

If there was ever an unconventional look, it was personified in the group ZZ Top, who sang about the effects of a Sharp Dressed Man. From the time man has dawned a suit in the corporate world, it became a stable part of the environment enabling them to reflect status, power and structure in their appearance.

Large companies such as IBM had the blue suit at every cubicle, turning their staff into Location Totalbank a herd, yet showing the world a united front and culture which has since started a downward spiral of a bygone era.

It started with casual Friday’s, where personnel were allowed to express their identity in an outfit, that even though had acceptable guidelines, still provided some assemblance of freedom and spirit of play.

I started my first company at the age of 19 in 1985, for a number of reasons, and attire was one of them. In a suit, dress, nylons, I felt a restriction of creativity that bordered on self-imprisonment, and although I have never been formally employed or accepted the business attire, I did adhere to it when I had to leave my office to venture into other worlds, otherwise known as the clients.

In my office programmers roamed the halls barefoot, coke bottles stacked were stacked like shrines of creativity and the walls were covered with marker boards of expression. But this was not the norm, and when Apple, Google, Dreamworks and other larger companies started to loosen the tie knots, entrepreneurs burst open the gates with a new standard in corporate attire.

No longer did the clothes reflect the person, but it was the spoken word, confidence, knowledge and a smoking hot portfolio that paved the path to a new generation of entrepreneurs. Working from the home, videoconferencing, email, technologies made an enormous difference in the way companies met, communicated and ultimately signed deals. This meant the entrepreneur was relatively free to wear what they wanted.

Internet marketers in particular parade stories of doing business in their underwear, and although that isn’t a particular image I wish to envision, entrepreneurs of today are taking casual to a new extreme.

Polished shoes are being replaced by flip flops and sandals. Does this mean that corporate America is headed for a down turn? If there is one, it would be the open-toed entrepreneurs that would be the saving salvation in an attempt to turn an economy around otherwise steeped in protocol and tradition versus ingenuity and speed. A good idea is only as good as it can get to market, and particle flow seems to happen fast on a pool side lap top, a hand held Blackberry or an internet café, all without any consideration as to what someone is wearing.

Ponytails and tattoos are no longer crucified in the office halls, in fact, it seems to add intrigue to the creative elements that may underlie such an appearance. In an environment that historically shunned and were slow to adopt this element, this aspect alone may have been the cause for such strongholds as Windows. The fun loving Apple urbanites, or the long-haired executives at Linux, pushed the expressive envelope and were bypassed for most offices and government, and almost resulted in an extinction of superior software environments.

Are we still judging a book (ie. Entrepreneur) by their cover?

Slowly the tides are turning as the results are starting to speak louder than words, and more corporations are opening their doors to the jet set enthusiasm of casually dressed entrepreneurs, who probably spend more time on your account, than on the selection of the clothes they wore that morning.

Remember those sayings “The clothes make a man.” I would bet that a suit manufacturer or clothing company inbred that little quote into our nomenclature.

With an upsurge of entrepreneurs entering into the marketplace, and with over 47% of those being women, the time has come for the unique expression of identity of the new social culture, to be “Wear what you want.” It is this freedom which allows an entrepreneur to put the focus on what’s needed and wanted, not what the shell looks like. Even the average age is lowering, with 13 year olds making millions on the internet, 27 year olds on their way to billions that it’s hard to care what goes on the outside, when the inside has so much to offer.

Youth, instincts, freedom, self confidence, and honesty are all traits that started a new revolution in clothing for the entrepreneur, and this has cascaded into the offices and board rooms of many corporations who turned their focus from clothing policy to work ethics, where it belongs.

So could this evolution of the new generation of entrepreneurs with their flip flopping, pony-tail flapping, tattoo-wearing attire really succeed?

Could this trend towards self expression collapse the ideals that a quality suit prepares for ‘success?’

Law firms, accounting houses, client meeting corporations, still cling to their dress code. In some circumstances it comes down to acceptable attire for a courtroom or business culture, but there will be a day when even those hallowed halls will be affected.

Remember when church was always for the Sunday best? But even that domain has been revitalized as youth parade in to get the message, not worry about dress codes.
This new shaping of society will continue to shatter previously built barriers and crudely created misconceptions, allowing the individual to create the mold, not fit it. I for one love the paradigm shift, and when a 12 year-old in jeans shows up on my webcam to complete an order I’ve just placed for high-end services, I look forward to the day when this would cause even the staunchest member of the old boys club – not to flinch.

“Tracy Repchuk is the bestselling author of 31 Days to Millionaire Marketing Miracles, Canadian entrepreneur of the year nominee, Chamber of Commerce Business woman of the year nominee, winner of the 2007 New Internet Marketing success of the Year and sought after coach, mentor, and copywriter. She is an International platform speaker and motivator and specializes in product launches and corporate branding strategies using internet marketing campaigns.
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Tracy Repchuk

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