There is a Johnny Cash song titled “Man in Black,” which is one of my all-time favorite songs, and it now gives me an opportunity to discuss my personal philosophy on professional appearance.

The song describes why Johnny Cash wore black throughout his entire career. He says dressing in black represented a lot of what is wrong with the world and until those problems are solved, he would continue to dress in black. The song goes on to say he would love to wear a rainbow of bright-colored clothes, but he just can’t at this time. Some of the words are as follows:

“Well you wonder why I always dress in black, why you never see bright colors on my back, and why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone, well there’s a reason for the things I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down livin’ in the hopeless hungry side of town.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old, for the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold.

I wear the black in mournin’ for the lives that could have been, each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

Well there’s things that never will be right I know, and things need changin’ everywhere you go but ‘til we start to make a move to make a few things right you’ll never see me wear a suit of white.

I’d love to wear a rainbow every day and tell the world that everything’s ok, but I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back ‘til things are brighter, I’m the man in black.”

In a similar way to how Johnny Cash explained why he dressed in black, I would like to share my philosophy on “Why I Wear a Tie” every day:

I wear a tie because I am very proud of where I work and what we have accomplished here at SDM. I believe that the position of our firm in the business community requires a certain stature and appearance to properly represent our image in the marketplace.

I wear a tie because I never know what unexpected meeting I am going to be called to attend, who I will unexpectedly meet, or on what client situation I will be asked to intervene. When I walk into any of these situations, I want the initial impression of whomever I am meeting with to be positive.

I wear a tie because for the most part we are dealing with people’s money, their business, and their financial future and security. Although I may be considered old-fashioned, I believe dealing with the financial aspects of people’s lives demands showing them a fair amount of respect. Dressing professionally seems a small price to pay for their trust and confidence.

I wear a tie because in almost every situation you cannot overdress when seeing a client, a candidate, or potential opportunity. If for some reason you are overdressed you can always remove the tie (and coat if needed), but if you have neither, you certainly cannot put them on.

I wear a tie because in a sense it is a part of my uniform. We have all been to athletic and/or theatric events. When a team or performers are appropriately dressed for the occasion, it is clear they have made an effort to be presentable to their audience. At the same time we have all been to athletic events or performances where the costumes or uniforms show a lack of discipline or pride and reflects in their performance. While dress does not necessarily make one play better, I believe taking time to dress appropriately for the occasion has everything to do with attitude and someone with a positive attitude always performs better than someone who does not.

I wear a tie because when I go to the “Big Game” and I see how professional the Cal marching band looks compared to the circus act from the Stanford band, it is obvious to me that dressing up is probably the right thing to do. Regardless of whether you are a fan of Cal or Stanford, I think the general consensus is that the Cal band is a symbol of pride and professionalism and the Stanford band, for the most part, is an embarrassment to the university and its alumni.

So that’s why I wear a tie. Last time I checked no one ever stopped breathing because they were over-dressed.

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