The History, Death, and Future of The Suit & Tie (Plus: An Intro to Sabremetrics)

“It’s all about evaluating skills and putting a price on them. Thirty years ago, stockbrokers used to buy stock strictly by feel. Let’s put it this way: Anyone in the game with a 401(k) has a choice. They can choose a fund manager who manages their retirement by gut instinct, or one who chooses by research and analysis. I know which way I’d choose.”

–Billy Beane

Aren’t you tired of wearing that itchy suit?

Is that tie starting to feel like a choker?

They are bothersome, annoying, and uncomfortable.

Wearing a suit and tie, day after day, begins to feel like a drag. For years, business men have been wearing this starchy equipment feeling the unpleasant glue of blue and black fabric sticking to their skin.

But where do they come from?

The traditional suit originates from the early 19th century.

Suits gained popularity in the Victorian era and transformed slowly towards the end of the century into a more comfortable version of the version worn today.

Interestingly enough, the word “suit” stems from the late Latin root sequer meaning, “I follow.”

It is hard to argue against the known fact that most of who wear suits follow suite in society. Business executives flock together in the streets of Manhattan following their company’s uniform policy.

Representatives, U.S. Senators, and even the President of the United States wear suits that stem from our past- a land we left behind. Certainly, our leaders do not wish for us to look at them as followers: patriotic wearers of a modern day suit originally from the United Kingdom.

Why do we still wear suits and ties?

In popular media ads and television shows, suits are making their mark in trying to convince us that suits are cool. And they are…on TV.

Television shows like “Suits” or “How I Met Your Mother” is one example of the ““suitawesomeness” ” of advertising executives. These shows want you to believe that wearing a suit is cool. Moreover, they are trying to connect with you: the white collar worker. Even Justin Timberlake and mogul Jay Z are jumping on the bandwagon.

By and large, the suit holds an enormous power of influence in our society. Wearing an iron-pressed suit to a job interview can make all the difference in the world. If you have an upcoming corporate interview, trust me: wear the suit. Remember high school; try and wear what all the popular kids are wearing. This ensures you’ll fit in with the crowd. They will accept you.

For others looking to step outside of social stereotypes, suits may not be in your best interests. It’s time to consider some alternatives. Examine your audience and marketplace. Are you targeting business-type clientele or lawyers? No, then stop wearing a suit. Be yourself. If you like suits, wear suits. It’s important to reflect who you truly are and what you represent. Give your brand a real image; distinguish it. Remember, people want to real connections. They want to understand you and know they can trust you.

It’s time to change how we view work attire. The business world is adapting rapidly to online innovation, e-commerce, and better business solutions via the web. The ways of traditional businesses are being challenged and dissected on every level. Working from the comfort of home has never been easier. With the growth of technology, changing trends are only going to continue.

One industry that shares a respect for uniformity is baseball, America’s favorite past-time. The sport of baseball is widely known for its popular uniforms across the world. The baseball hat has become a fashionable trend that has spread across the globe existing in virtually every country. New York Yankees hats can be found in Bangkok, Bangladesh, and Beirut. The New York Yankees image has become synonymous with success; the baseball cap has become a stereotypical representation of the American dream: “Be like us and you can win.”

But, buying Yankees merchandise does not make you a winner, advertisers just want you to believe you are one. It’s a confidence booster, an illusion, much like the suit.  But, who are we kidding? Just as buying a Yankees hat makes you no more or less a winner, wearing a suit and tie makes you no more employable as the next applicant. If anything, the world exemplifies loudly to be different. Innovation is the key to tomorrow’s booming economy. It’s hard not to wonder if suits and ties are stunting are countries growth.

 Have we stopped hiring great applicants because they don’t “look the part?”

One man who has challenged stereotypical judgments in baseball is Billy Beane. If you don’t know who Billy Beane is or haven’t seen Moneyball, Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) used sabermetrics, a form of baseball statistical analysis, to take the low-budget and unconventional Oakland A’s to their first playoff game in 2006. Instead of judging potential players based on non-essentials like their muscle definition, height, and overall good looks, Beane calculated statistical knowledge on his players to predict their odds of winning. Each player was calculated based on a set of standardized metrics that used in conjunction with his formula predicted their chances of winning.

We can learn a lot from his leadership strategy. Beane’s key strategy was his use of information: data from the player’s past (high school, college, and minor league) combined with how the player would fit in with the rest of the team. Where many baseball scouts judged potential players on physical appearance, Beane relied on rationality and mathematics. He used past indicators of performance that would safe guard against bad intuitive decision making. Everyone can learn something from Billy Beane’s approach. Our pre-judgments are often wrong. Billy Beane knew better than to rely solely on a player’s appearance.

It’s an unfortunate fact that others judge our appearance. The materials we wear (shirts, shoes, pants, etc.) are looked at as representations of us. It is a shame that we judge others by the emblem on their shirt or the advertising on the back pocket of their jean pants. To think that wearing a t-shirt, exposing our legs, or growing facial hair is deemed irreprehensible and irresponsible begs for a change in business protocol. Businesses are missing out on great opportunities because of misjudgment.

The future is changing before us. Corporate structures are beginning to see and believe that comfortable employees work harder. Not only do they spend more energy at work, job satisfaction is higher.

It’s time to start questioning the reasons for wearing a mandatory suit and tie:

What is it adding to the company?

How is affecting your work? 

Is it essential for great performance?

It’s time to start paying attention to analysis, facts, and people with proof of their accomplishments- even if they do look different.

Conformity is over, it’s time to revolt.

Are you really a suit and tie kinda guy?



About Stephan Stansfield

Stephan is the owner, creator, and editor of Peregrine Poise.
He is currently traveling and teaching around the world. When he is not helping others discover their true potential, he finds time to surf, read, and reflect on the important issues of living a good life.


  1. Suits are itchy? That’s news to me; sounds like you’ve worn some poor quality stuff. And I must say, saying a tie is like a choker is like saying a belt causes constipation. The problem isn’t the item, it’s the ill fitting piece of clothing.

    You talk about revolting against this conformity, when in this too casual world we live in, people look just as alike. It’s an ocean of blue jeans and t shirts out there. Fashion in general is all about conformity, just look around, now a days it seems like it’s all jersey shore rejects or big bang theory extras walking around.

    • Stephan Stansfield says

      Hey Jorge,

      Thanks for speaking your mind. For me, there’s absolutely nothing worse than running around on a hot summer’s day wearing a long sleeve button down and neck tie. I remember having to manage the kitchen of a busy restaurant I used to work at and pouring sweat standing next to the grill and fryers. On the flip side, if someone is working inside with air conditioning or in an environment with a colder climate, suits are much more suitably warm and worn. Honestly, I wore a tie to work today, by choice, and it didn’t bother me a bit.

      In regards to this piece being about a revolution, it’s not that there is anything wrong with dressing up properly and putting on a nice suit and tie. I wore one today. I wore one on New Year’s Eve. My question is really about the unconcerned, unquestionable conformity that we all submit to without ever primarily asking, “Why is this necessary?” If the answer becomes, “Because I say so,” we should be concerned. In an age where corporate desk jobs are diminishing at unprecedented rate and more people have the luxury of working from the comforts of their homes, shouldn’t we challenge our conditioned trust of the idea that working for someone else’s doctrine is better than creating our own? Or, should we just follow traditions blindly and do what others tell us is best for our lives? Better yet, what we need to ask ourselves is where is there a danger in allowing people the freedom to express who they are? Are we teaching people to be individuals and think, or to conform and blend in?

      Fashion is about expression and choice. When you mix fashion with a capitalistic society, most companies only care about creating massive trends and increasing cash flows in comparison to helping people understand what it means to be individually responsible and make a personal conscious decision of what to wear. People naturally conform; they want to fit in and be accepted. But, choosing to consciously express yourself and imitating someone else’s style (a known style, perhaps celebrity, that you already know is accepted by your peers) are completely different: one being entirely more risk-adverse. The truth is that people are more fashionable and diverse now than ever before. They also have the means and more choices now than ever before. New avenues of expression are constantly being opened and the diversity of choice continues to expand throughout the world. The options are there for people who want to dress differently, wear bamboo-framed glasses, and listen to wireless headphones. Just because people choose not to, doesn’t mean the options don’t exist.

      As for me, I’ll take the choice of casual wear over mandatory dress any day of the week. That way I can work harder and comfortably longer.

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