“Your shower shoes have fungus on 'em. You'll never get to the Bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy and you'll be classy. If you win 20 in the Show you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win twenty in the Show, however, it means you're a slob.”
This is one of my favorite quotes from the movie Bull Durham. When I was a leader, I used this quote when I had to give the “summer dress code” reminder speech, year after year. In this situation the quote really hit home. I find that when you need to clearly get a point across, refer to pop-culture—and make it funny.
This quote worked because it painted a picture for a team trying to understand why their funky, unusual, too casual, or skin bearing outfits (including flip-flops) were not right for the workplace. It helped them see that their clothes were working against them and would ultimately hold them back in their career because of how they were perceived. And how people perceive you has a definite impact on success, not just professionally but personally.
So, unless you’re the Steve Jobs or Sheryl Sandburg of your workplace and you’ve already made your mark, stick to looking polished and appropriate.
The following guidelines don’t apply to everyone of course, but the vast majority will benefit from taking note. If you work outside, build things, or get dirty, you have your own dress code and these aren’t meant for you.
What you wear and how you groom yourself sends a silent, yet loud and very clear message. So, go ahead and look at yourself—take a good look. What message are you sending? What message do you want to be sending? If you aren’t getting the respect, recognition, promotion, raise, job, or relationship you know you deserve, it might be time for an image overhaul.
If, one day in the future you’ve anchored yourself at the top of the ladder in life and work, then and only then, are you allowed to let “fungus grow on your shower shoes”.