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As I clumsily struggled inserting the fastening end of my silver and blue cufflinks through the opening of  a French cuff shirt, I asked myself why am I wasting time trying to figure this out when I could be working on one of my client accounts? After posting the question to Twitter and pondering the answer all day, I came up with the following reasons:

  1. They project drive, dedication, and ambition
  2. They stand out in a crowd
  3. They look too damn cool not to wear

As many things in life are, I found it easy to dissect those 3 excuses reasons and apply them to my line of work at an agency. Imagine that.

I wear cufflinks because I care about my appearance

All too often I run into young professionals that simply do not care about how they come off to others, be it clients, coworkers, management, or even the girl at The Green Kitchen that makes the best Caesar salad with grilled chicken on this side of the Milwaukee River. Whether they have untucked shirts, wildly unshaven faces, or an ensemble that wouldn’t even meet the minimum required dress code to get into the front doors of the local Open Pantry, I find it disheartening that some professionals don’t take appearance seriously.

When I was but a young, wet-behind-the-ears intern at Northwestern Mutual, a wise manager of the people once told me “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have”. After listening to him speak about how he’s seen people get promoted through the ranks on not just merit, but the ability to project, I decided to heed his advice and started wearing a tie to work. Aside from the fact that I looked flat-out goofy wearing a tie with khaki pants and a dress shirt, I realized that what he was talking about wasn’t just about what you wore to work, it was how you wore it. The devil is in the details and if you’re willing to go that extra step to figure out those pesky cuff-links, then it shows you’re willing to go that extra mile to put on the finishing touches that truly make the client deliverable, proposal, or campaign.

I wear cuff-links because they stand out in a crowd

One representative from three local marketing agencies walk into your office to pitch online marketing. The first is wearing dark jeans, dress shoes and a blazer (it’s casual Friday, duh), the second is wearing a suit, and the third is wearing slacks and a dress shirt. Based on appearance alone, who gets the 12-month retainer? Unless you have some deep rooted issues with guys in suits – which would be awkward, just saying – the obvious front-runner would be the guy that pulled out all the stops and threw on a suit. Because you’ve been dealing those agency folk for years, you’ve come to realize that not everything is as it seems, so you look a bit deeper

  • Agent 1 is wearing jeans and a blazer – deep down, he doesn’t acknowledge the fact that you are a conservative company in a mature industry - if he doesn’t know who you are and what you stand for, how can he pitch your product to consumers?
  • Agent 2 is wearing the suit. It shows that he values your time and opted to dress the part.
  • Agent 3 is wearing slacks and dress shirt. This shows that while he did ignore the urge to take part in casual Friday, he still views the pitch as “another day in the office”.
Moral of the long, drawn-out story: Stand out from the crowd (in a good way) and show the world that you’re not just a rank-and-file member of the establishment. You stand for something… Drive, Determination, and Success.

I wear cuff-links because they are too damn cool not to

Come on, just look at them. They’re a great addition to any young professional’s wardrobe and can be custom engraved and personalized to add the “wow effect”. Want something fun and exciting to talk about at the next happy hour? Try comparing the intricacies of your cuff-links. On second thought, don’t. Save it for your next pitch.

Image c/o jessica @ Flickr

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