Dress The Part, Or Just Be Me

I just finished reading yet another great post from Get Rich Slowly, “Spend Based on Who You Are, Not Who You Want to Be”. It goes against a lot of the business wisdom I grew up with, and really made me think.

I was raised on the notion that you should always “dress for the job you want”. That quote always meant more than just clothes. To me it implied that you should always live slightly above your means in order to get the attention of your bosses and peers. There is some wisdom to that. If you want to be CEO, showing up to work in a hoodie and sandals won’t give off the right impression. I recently finished reading a book by Donald Trump “Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life”. A recurring theme throughout was the idea that you should always plan for greatness, always buy the best, never accept second best.

The theory breaks down when you assume more money = more success. Like I said, you don’t show up for a corporate job dressed like you’re in search of a hacky sack circle to join. That doesn’t mean you have to show up in a $5,000 suit either. On the same level, buying a $500 driver doesn’t make you a better golfer, and a $500 stroller doesn’t make you a better parent. There are extremes you want to avoid in either direction. You need a clean suit for the office, a computer capable of running the programs you use, and a car that gets you safely and affordably from point to point. Anything beyond this becomes vanity. Unless you are in a career where image and status directly affect your bottom line, what good are you doing by spending more than you can afford?

There have been many projects I’ve started over the years that turned into nothing more than debt. Do any of these sound familiar?

I really should be better at home improvement, so I should go down and spend hundreds on tools.

Sure, the computer I need NOW is $500, but maybe I want to do video editing someday…..I should by the $2,000 one instead.

If I spend the extra and buy the nice one, it will force me to get out there and work harder.

If any of those lines you fed yourself actually worked, more power to you. They sure didn’t for me. So, what do you think? Should you dress for success, buy the best, regardless of your current state? Or, should you be modest, and buy what you can truly afford NOW, and hope that your hard work and attention to detail (not the cost of your shoes) earn you the respect and success you seek?