It’s No Sweat

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What do the mega-successful entrepreneurs of this century all have in common? It’s not youth, fame or fortune. (Though they have these, too.) The one attribute they all share is a love of hoodies and sweatshirts.

Tech titans such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel are known for sporting hoodies and sweatshirts at work and during public appearances. While not traditional sartorial indications of success—or even of a spot in the workforce at all—this mode of dressing serves as a status symbol, telling the world the wearer may break whatever rule he or she likes because they have earned the right to do so.

Researchers from Harvard Business School have found people who intentionally under-dress are frequently judged to be more successful when viewed in an environment where one would expect formality, such as an Ivy League classroom, an expensive boutique or a black-tie fundraiser.

But startup wunderkinds may also gravitate toward fleece because breaking “rules” in life helps them break barriers in their work. Employers have historically believed office workers behave more professionally when they stick to the company’s dress guidelines, but who knows what could happen if staffers are allowed to wear what they want? Companies that are pushing boundaries must give employees freedom to think, and dress, differently.

If your clients are ready to dial back their employee dress codes, here’s what they should know from Ty Cannon, national business development manager at Seattle, Washington-based supplier Cutter & Buck (UPIC: CUTT0001).

When it comes to hoodies, pullovers are king. Men and women of all ages and genders love to snuggle into hooded pullovers. They’re also a great value tool for marketers because the lack of a zip-up front makes them easy to decorate.

You can’t beat screen printing. It’s the most common form of decoration for sweatshirts, but heat transfers, embroidery and woven appliqués work equally well.

Sweatshirts are always a good investment. They’re having a heyday right now, but sweatshirts and hoodies are not trends. Sweatshirts aren’t going away anytime soon.

 

>>Did You Know? First Lady Michelle Obama often uses a hoodie to shield herself from the paparazzi while exiting her gym in Washington, D.C. And in the UK, doctors say a boy hit by a car was saved from injury because he was wearing two hoodies for protection during a downpour. The extra layers are thought to have cushioned the blow.

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