Over a year ago, I showed up to IDEAS for my first round of interviews. I was wearing my usual, “interview outfit,” which would have made my college professors proud. Black pants, a button up shirt and black suit jacket with closed-toe shoes. I waited patiently in the lobby for our President, John Lux, expecting a suit, or at the very least, a tie, to greet me. Not even close. John walked out in shorts and a hooded sweatshirt (aka a hoodie) and I immediately thought maybe I was meeting an older intern. Wrong again, introducing the President of IDEAS. It seemed the more people I met with, the more casually they all dressed as well.
Having worked for other companies in the past, where you only wore jeans on Fridays, this was quite the change for me, but in a positive way! I think having a casual dress code helps fuel the creativity around IDEAS. You just don’t feel as loose and free when you’re wearing a suit jacket and can’t bend or raise your arms.
On a separate note, that seems random, but I promise it’s not, I get my news on the internet. I don’t even own a TV, so any news coverage gets to me through word of mouth, newspapers I see in the grocery store line, or most often, the internet. While checking out my usual news sites one day, I came across an article titled, “Now, Hip Companies Have Formal Fridays; because they’re casual the rest of the time.” Of course this jumped out to me, because IDEAS is causal all the time! I jokingly sent it to John and told him that we should do that here. We had actually done a Pajama Day at IDEAS back in October (another story, for another time), but I didn’t really know if people would participate in a Formal Friday. It was a gamble because not everyone is always thrilled about the idea of dressing up, especially if you’ve ever worked in an environment where you HAD to dress up everyday.
But, after asking a couple people their thoughts, we decided to give it a try. As I sent out the email telling the company about Formal Friday, I let them know that we were not defining what, “formal,” really was. It was their call on whether that meant business formal or prom formal. I am pleased to say that Formal Friday at IDEAS was a rousing success! Over half the office dressed up and there were quite a few out for the day that I know would have liked to dress up as well. Even Caroline, who was working from home that day, participated, dressed up and sent photo evidence!
John told me when writing this that I needed to include something about why none of the women dressed as nice as the men (cut to me sticking out my tongue). But I will say, while the ladies of IDEAS looked beautiful and very professional on Formal Friday, there is nothing quite like a man in a suit and tie (cut to Justin Timberlake’s latest song, Suit & Tie). The word, “dapper,” kept coming to mind and I for one would not be opposed to seeing a few more Formal Fridays around here.