Mark Cuban Hates Suits

Mark Cuban and I have something in common, other than our fondness for rants. Rants about suits!

Exactly what purpose does a suit serve ? Why in the world are so many people required to wear a suit to work ?
Do the clothes make the man or woman in the western world today ? Does
wearing a tie make us work harder or smarter ? Is this a conspiracy by
the clothing, fabric or dry cleaning industry to take our money ?

Or are we all just lemmings following a standard we all know makes zero sense, but we follow because we are afraid not to ?

you are a CEO , are there not better things your employees could spend
money on than multiple suits, ties, dress shirts, dress shoes, dress
socks, dry cleaning, and all the other associated costs ? Gee, no suits
would be the same as giving your employees a tax free raise. Think that
might make them happy ? Or do employees consider having to spend money
on suits a perk ?

Now I understand some people think wearing a
suit provides them with a certain level of stature. It gives them
confidence. It helps them feel good about themselves. Well let me be
the first to tell you that if you feel like you need a suit to gain
that confidence, you got problems. The minute you open your mouth, all
those people who might think you have a great suit, forget about the
suit and have to deal with the person wearing it.

Is there a
reason other than “thats just the way it is” ? Haven’t you looked at
someone in a suit, trying to look important and just thought how stupid
and out of place it is ? Why do we do this to ourselves ?

Speaking as someone who hasn’t worn a suit in at least a decade … Go get ’em, Mark!


  1. As a IT Professional working in Honolulu. Most of the business population does not wear suits. Instead, people use khaki’s and reversed-aloha print shirts (c.f. reyn spooner). This is pretty much the norm from CEO’s down to mailroom staff.
    I think it comes down to the local culture and what the area considers appropriate business attire. And, as social animals we all adjust to what is, or is considered, to be the norm.
    It’ll continue to evolve, change, fluctuate with the fashion fads… In the first half of the century weren’t business folks wearing trilby/fedora?

  2. Paul , do you think you could teach Cuban how to use punctuation ? Am I the only one who finds it grating ?

  3. His reasoning rings false. If a suit at work serves no purpose then a suit at a wedding or funeral serves no purpose. He’s a hypocrite and the reasoning is faulty. If I’m with a client and I don’t spit on the pavement or chew my food with my mouth open am I a lemming? These social graces also serve no real purpose.

  4. I typically wear a suit to work (no tie). It’s more-or-less the cultural standard in the Montreal business community. And I don’t mind… A good suit doesn’t have to be pricey or uncomfortable and all those pockets are super useful for those gadgets and items I can’t seem to live without; blackberry, wallet, keys, business cards, mp3 player, pack of gum, etc.
    IT shops where everyone wears the jeans/ ironic t-shirt or striped polo combo are just following a different fashion standard, but it’s still a standard. Or else everyone would just wear fleece pants and slippers. I know I would. Or a bathrobe.
    Shaving, though. I hate shaving.

  5. Hi, Paul. Our line of work takes us into the offices of many public companies and I can tell you that I rarely see suits being worn anymore by employees. Most wear a nice pair of slacks with a dress shirt. Execs still wear them but many are sans ties when working around the office.
    Having said that, I believe they serve some very important purposes during formal business meetings that Mark is overlooking:
    1] On game day, most men like to put on a uniform. We don’t want to wear khaki’s and a polo shirt. It doesn’t change what comes out of our mouths but it does put us into “mode”.
    2] Professionalism. Mark’s Mavs might play dark shirt vs. white shirt, or shirts vs. skins in practice – but the NBA requires everybody to wear the same uniform during games in order to project a professional image.
    3] If you banned suits from the business world today, another “look” would eventually emerge in terms of proper shoes, pants, shirt, coat etc. Look no further than golf attire if you need proof. There is always going to be a “look” for different occasions.
    4] The school uniform argument – Suits actually make it EASIER for most business people to blend in and not be judged for their attire. If you banned suits, most biz people would have a heart attack every morning trying to figure out if they’ve got the right look or look goofy.
    5] Respect. You wear a suit at important or first time business meetings for the same reason you wear a suit to weddings and funerals (as stated above). You are showing the other party they are important enough for you to suit up.
    Business people are no different than NBA players, military officers or UPS drivers. We like and need uniforms. They don’t affect meetings anymore than they affect 3-pointers, defence strategy or getting the package there on time – but they tell the world you have your game face on.

  6. My personal theory: suits are required to reduce the probability that employees will recognize their coworkers and managers for the morons they are and treat them accordingly.
    Numerous studies (see, for example, here and here) have found that people are more likely to comply with people in suits or uniforms than they are with others.
    My guess is that if the types of organizations that require suits did not require them, they would soon collapse under the ensuing insubordination.

  7. “Business people are no different than NBA players, military officers or UPS drivers. We like and need uniforms.”
    I must say that’s a deeply scary sentence.
    By the way, reasons such as “professionalism” and “respect” are circular – why have that expensive for ordinary people, uncomfortable get-up? They are merely “That’s the way it is, and don’t question it”.

  8. I think as somebody says here most social graces serve no purpose, and I add, other than to keep a sense of order.
    A suit as a corporate uniform is an extension of a school uniform, I think. In my (private) school, it served a purpose. Students came from different social strata and financial circumstances. Some rich kids could dress up in a different attire every day, while the relatively poorer ones could not. A uniform – albeit not very ordinary, as we wore pinafores in a specific shade and our winter uniform had more idiosyncracies – helped keep everyone more or less equal in the place of learning…
    And surely, a suit allows men to save time every morning instead of repeating what women often get blamed for – ‘what do I wear today?’.

  9. I happen to like suits. So what?
    I find them comfortable (at least if they are sized correctly and made of decent materials) and think they look good.
    I will concede that if I lived in a climate where it was often 90 degrees + and high humidity, I might wear them less often.
    I’ve seen Mark’s post referenced on many message boards I read, and I think it’s hilarious. It’s like he’s some sort of rebel, telling truth to the man!
    The fact is, after reading the responses, I think I might be the real rebel for wearing and liking suits! At least on the west coast…

  10. And surely, a suit allows men to save time every morning instead of repeating what women often get blamed for – ‘what do I wear today?’.
    Top drawer: Socks and boxers
    Middle drawer: T-Shirt and Polos
    Bottom drawer: Jeans
    Dressing in the morning takes zero decision making skills.
    The problem with suits is how darn uncomfortable they are. On the other hand, I do think they are justified for some types of meetings and interviews. I use my single suit once a year for the company Christmas party and about every three to five years for a handful of job interviews. I’m actually amazed it still fits. (I have two dress shirts and one tie; all are now over sixteen years old. That they are still in style is another astonishing thing.)

  11. Rafael Montoya says:

    Hello Paul,
    I worked as Faculty and Associate Director for a BSchool for 19 years and wore suits to death. And I honestly liked to get dressed every day (a friend says it is like putting your Xmas tree every day).
    Last September I separated from the Bschool looking for newer horizons, and suddenly the first challenge I faced was how to dress. Let´s just say that it took me 3 months to figure out “what not to wear”!
    But I have some interesting facts for anyone planning to switch between formal and no-formal wear:
    a) more time to sleep (some 15 minutes);
    b) wash and wear, so my laundry expenses are lower, and with the new fabrics you don´t need to iron.
    c) spend some cash on all my non-formal clothes (from shirts to shoes), but I looked at it as when you do a one time expense to change to a different technology where you will have lower management costs.
    d) business people (and the rest of the population) still talk to me.

  12. The “leveling” argument is utter nonsense. It shows people are casting around to find a rationalization for an irrational practice. One can signal status by wearing a multithousand dollar hand-tailored suit, and nobody will say don’t do that because it’s subverting the leveling function.
    Once again, “sense of order” can be used for anything – like, say, requiring women to wear a veil .
    And, by the way, those very same arguments ARE used to justify forcing women to wear veils.
    Doesn’t this make the pro-suit’ers uncomfortable? Even a little?

  13. He also clearly feels a good haircut is also optional. I think he uses the same barber as Bill Gates.