MBAs List Biz Apparel Mistakes

June 19, 2002 ( - Workplace dress codes remain as controversial as ever, a poll finds.

A survey of alumni of the MIT Sloan School of Management found 46% of the sample pointing to the trend toward casual workplace dress as the worst thing about trends in corporate attire, while 43% were on the other side of the fashion runway, insisting that a return to formal business duds would be a disaster.

Fashion Faux Pas

Asked to name what they thought was the biggest business fashion faux pas of recent years, the former management students named:

  • high-heeled shoes for women “as proved by any manufacturing plant tour involving catwalks, or a surprise winter snow storm”
  • Bermuda shorts with suit jackets.  Wrote one MBA wag: “They do wear them there, and frankly, men’s knees and a suit jacket were never meant to be seen simultaneously.”
  • expensive designer golf clothing,
  • engraved belt buckles,
  • corporate logo wear, and
  • “50-year olds with pony tails dressed in all black”

One respondent broke his answer into two categories. The all-time worst clothing trend was leisure suits, he said. The current worst trend is tight, Italian suits. But several other alumni said mini-skirts merit top spot in the business fashion hall of shame.

The survey drew more than 600 e-mail responses About half graduated between 1950 and 1990, while half left Sloan since 1991. About 20% were women.