Posted On: Saturday, 27 March 2010 by Rajiv Popat

While organizing TEDxCalcutta I received tons of phone calls and emails asking me if there was a dress code for the event. With that question, what people were really trying really ask was this: Is TEDxCalcutta a suit-and-tie event or is it an event where you are allowed to be yourself and wear what makes you comfortable.

For us, personally, it was really important that the answer was later. The best events are where people look at or get inspired by your ideas and personality, not your dress code.

But then this was not the first time that we were hearing the whole dress code question. I have had the pleasure of facing and answering this question on multiple occasions, starting from my early days at Multiplitaxion Inc, where one of my early managers had actually insisted that I stop wearing slippers or floaters along with casual t-shirts and jeans to office, only to receive a polite but an out-rightly-flat 'no' from my side.

To be honest, it did feel a little scary to say no at first, but then, I figured that I was way better of saying no and being myself rather than spending eight hours a day being someone who I was never meant to become.

A casual, informal dress code that makes you feel comfortable and lets you be who you are seems to have become such a rare thing that companies like vertigo actually mention it as one of the intangible employee benefits. Placed smack under employee benefits section of the vertigo website are words which are both interesting and funny: 'Acceptable office attire includes shorts and t-shirts; unacceptable office attire has yet to be identified'.

Personally, I seem to consider myself really lucky to have been employed in a work environment where we do not waste hours talking about the dress code and most people come to office in jeans, t-shirts or any attire that make them comfortable. Yes, we do have a manager or two who would be bothered by someone wearing a pair of jeans to work, but that overall thought process is on its way to a slow, painful extinction and that to be honest, is a good thing.

The point of the post is not to tell you that suits are bad. If they make you feel at home and if you like them, by all means, go ahead - indulge yourself. If you are not comfortable in them, wear what you are comfortable and at home in.

As long as you do not end up embarrassing others and can carry yourself well, wear what makes you feel at home and settle down. Focus on your overall personality, ideas, work and what you bring to the table rather than being overly conscious about what you are going to wear to your next client meeting.

Be at home. Work hard. Focus on consistently giving your clients a kickass product that simplifies their life or brings a smile on their face. Give them the best of the products that can get and then if they cannot stand your pair of jeans or the fact that you do not wear a tie to meetings, they are just going to have to deal with that.

I wish you good luck.

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