Every year at this time I receive a flurry of questions from parents throughout the country. They either want to know how their children should dress for school or whether they should vote for or against a dress code or uniform program that is being proposed. When I write on the subject the greatest number of responses I receive are condemnations of my narrow minded out of date view of dress. This is often from parents whose children are attending schools that are going to or at least thinking about putting in a dress code or even worse in their opinion putting the kids in uniforms.

Every year taxpayers throughout the country are asked to support spending programs to improve their local schools. The argument for such expenditure is usually that it will help the children learn because the environment does impact education. What they fail to realize is that clothing is a portable environment that affects not only the wearer but everyone with whom he or she interacts.

The very same people who propose to spend taxpayers money to improve the learning environment, in most cases would not consider instituting a dress code for teachers and students. Their arguments against it run the gamut but the most interesting one is, it would interfere with the freedom of students or teachers. Many claim that what you wear is your way of announcing to the world who you are and that students and teachers should be able to make any statement they wish. It’s a form of free speech and protected by the Constitution.

Years ago I ran a research project in which I compared two inner-city schools. In the first school the teachers dressed very casually and in the second the teachers wore more traditional attire, sport jackets for the men and similar attire for the women. The dress code in the second school was put in by the principal but I doubt with the teachers union he could do that today. Nevertheless, it was a very effective educational tool since the second school out performed the first in every academic area.

In two middle range suburban schools that had a dress code for the teachers but only one had a dress code for the students, the one with the dress code for students outperformed the other in academic achievement and college admissions.

I found these findings support the premise that what the students wore affected how well they performed academically. However, the study I conducted at that time in two schools in very affluent areas found that the dress of the students did not affect the academic performance or their college admissions. Since this did not support my original premise I decided to redo it today. Once again the students dress did not seem to impact how well they performed academically or how many went to college .

I was so surprised that I asked the teachers who were doing me a favor by collecting data in their schools to take pictures of the students on a typical day. There was definitely a difference between the school with a dress code and the one without. While approximately 80% of the students in the school without a dress code would have fit in at the dress code school, 20% definitely would not. Their dress ranged from avant-garde, kooky fashionable to sexy and/or sloppy. In hopes of reconciling my research with these new findings, I arranged to have a conference call with both teachers.

The teachers talked to each other before the conference call and agreed that the school with the dress code had higher academic standards than the school without a dress code. Although the students marks were virtually the same, their performance wasn’t necessarily the same. They went on to say that in both areas going to college was expected, if they didn’t go to a real college they went to “Anyone gets in U”. Sometimes in research, numbers do not tell the whole story.

While I recognize the unscientific nature of the study I think it does justify a major educational organization or the government conducting a study on the impact of dress codes on education. Only an organization with almost unlimited funds could do such a study on a national scale.

I will give them a head start by assuring them that teachers clothing does indeed affect the learning process.

When teaching at a prep school in Connecticut I ran a study in which I took two sets of teachers and varied their dress morning and afternoon. They changed from traditional suits, shirts and ties and black lace up shoes to sports jackets with open collar shirts and loafers. Which at the time and in that affluent school was quite casual but acceptable for a male teacher.

When we questioned the students about who they liked and with whom they worked best, 87% picked the sports coat teachers. However, when we measured the amount of time students spent on identical assignments. we found they worked harder and longer for the more traditional dressers. When we asked why, they said he was more demanding. What was even more significant was all students were given identical tests at the end of the semester, when the same teacher dressed more conservatively his students performed better.

So the next time the Board of Education asks you to dress up the school building, tell them that first you would like them to dress up the people who use it.

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Dear Readers:

As you know this blog was off-line for an extended period of time. During that time, we received a number of very intelligent and thought provoking letters. I intend to answer as many of them as possible. If you wrote to me you may find that I am answering your question without using your letter because we often received a number of questions that are almost identical. I think in most cases it will answer the questions you asked. If I do not please write to me again. Sooner or later I’ll get to everyone.

Today’s topic is buying a woman’s suit.

When a woman buys a suit she must pay attention to several areas.

The style of the suit which works best for the vast majority of women in executive positions is a traditional blazer type with a skirt or pants depending on a number of variables. The most important variable is what is worn in the office where you work by women in positions of authority, the name of the game remains follow the leader. Although a skirted suit still works best for most women Hillary Clinton has made the pantsuit an acceptable alternative. Women over 50 and those who are a bit heavier often favor pantsuits because they are more flattering.

Another important style element is the design and length of the jacket. While a short jacket creates authority problems for women, a long one, in addition to adding to her authority, covers a multitude of minor flaws. If the jacket is pinched at the waist to emphasize the wearers feminine form, it will make it more difficult for them to deal with men particularly male subordinates. A jacket that has lacy frills or feminine styling will have the same effect.

You must also pay attention to the construction of the jacket. Before you even put on a jacket in a store test the material by grabbing the sleeve in your hand and squeezing. If it falls out neatly you can try it on. If it remains wrinkled it is unsuitable for a hard day at the office. Any suit made of a material that wrinkles easily will have you looking like a mess at the end of the day.

Check the look of the material. Although you want it to be wrinkle resistant you don’t want to look cheap and whatever you do don’t buy anything that looks like polyester. You can buy polyester because today there are polyesters that have the rich conservative look of wool. If the material for any reason looks cheap, move on to another suit. Today even the kids right out of college wear material that looks rich since it is no longer costly to do so.

Women’s executive suits come in a wide variety of acceptable patterns. If you were raised at your father’s pinstriped knee, playing with your mother’s expensive attaché case or in a country club or expensive upper-middle-class socio-economic environment you probably know which patterns are acceptable. If you weren’t raised in a privileged environment I suggest you stick with the most traditional conservative patterns or buy solid colors until you think you know the game.

You must also check the patterns and see if they match at the seams. If they don’t match exactly pass on that suit which is another reason for not having extensive alterations done on a patterned suit.

Acceptable women’s suits also come in a wide variety of colors but the question is acceptable for whom. In addition to the traditional male colors all women can safely wear all shades of blue except pastel’s, most shades of red which for women can be a power color The colors a woman can wear depends on several variables, her power index,which is her natural power, age, her field, the company she works for, the culture of that company, where she is in the corporate hierarchy, to name just a few. This obviously is going to require at least a blog to explain and I will get to it later.

If you paid over $400 for your suit the buttons should be sewn by hand. In a less expensive suit the buttons probably will be attached by machine, which is fine as long as they are reinforced.

It is essential that you coordinate the lining with your suits color and fabric with the blouses that you are likely to wear with that suit. It’s simply easier if you avoid obvious contrast or clashing colors. There is nothing more disconcerting than a garish colored lining inside a woman’s business suit.

If the jacket doesn’t fit perfectly it creates a very unfortunate impression. This is particularly true if a woman is busty. Be aware some very expensive women’s suits including designer models leave little or no room for a woman’s breasts. Don’t put up with it, don’t buy those suits. The first requirement in the jacket is that it is comfortable. A woman’s jacket should fit snugly at the shoulders but there should be sufficient play so that she can move her arms comfortably.

The collar and lapels should always lie flat especially after alterations. Check if the suit had to be tailored around the collar to make sure there is no little bubble in the back just under the collar. That area should lie flat as well. In a good suit or sports jacket the lapels have a neat roll.

Finally, remember you have to sit in a suit whether it has a skirt or slacks. In the final fitting have a clerk bring you a chair so you can sit in front of the mirror because that is what most of your coworkers will see.

I hope that answers everyone’s questions regarding women’s suits.

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Mr. Molloy;

I read your last blog and I have only one question. How dare you give advice to those running for President of the United States. I am certain they are receiving the best advice available from professionals who have been studying and working in the political area for years. I know many of them are graduates of Ivy League schools so they are more intelligent than you. I think an apology is in order.





Dear NL:

I knew yours was not a friendly letter when I read your salutation. Dear Mr. Molloy would have been preferable. Yours is a version of the most common argument put forth by the fashion industry when I wrote Dress for Success. It works on the assumption that people in various professions are better at choosing their image that someone from the outside. I’ll list a few obvious exceptions.


1)Lawyers commonly wear medium to dark gray suits while pleading before juries with one or more blue-collar members. People from blue-collar backgrounds see those wearing traditional executive suits as authority figures they often dislike.

2)Talented engineers who are often brilliant people usually dress casually which makes it more difficult for them to move into management positions even in engineering departments where they should be in charge.

3)Young teachers often dress in a style similar to that of the students because they think it will help them communicate effectively. Research shows the opposite is true, teachers who dress like students have more discipline problems than teachers who dress like adults. In addition, teachers who dress formally are seen by students as strict task masters and most put more time and effort into the work they give them.

4) Politicians often hire friends, the sons and daughters of political contributors, would be politicians, professional political groupies or anyone with a degree from an Ivy League school to run their campaigns and actually think their image experts. Or even worse they become their own image expert because they are sure they know. A classic example is Richard Nixon who when he debated Kennedy didn’t wear makeup. Then of course there is Al Gore who let a self-appointed image expert put him in sweaters to convince the world he wasn’t boring when everyone knew he was. The more up to date example of such a mistake is the one being made by presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. She showed up for one of the most critical days in her life wearing a very expensive, very feminine non power suit when she had to know in advance all her opponents would be wearing power suits. My research proved conclusively that the public expects the president to be a power figure and will reject anyone who does not fulfill that expectation. She was brilliant and in spite of her non presidential image won her debate. But after her victory while those who did well in the debate were discussed as possible Republican party presidential candidates, she was being talked about as a future vice president. Women who rise to the heights of industry often start dressing conservatively but once they make it into the executive suite they dress expensively and fashionably. I don’t know if Carly Fiorina followed that path or dressed as she did because she worked in the very casual computer industry but that really doesn’t make any difference she did not look presidential. Someone probably pointed out her mistake but they attempted to correct it by putting her in an equally inappropriate suit . I hate to mention it but her makeup doesn’t work because I think she might be tough and brilliant and make a great president. The reason I hate to mention that with her track record she may listen to a make-up expert who will see to it that she can’t get elected dogcatcher.


Dear Mr. Molloy:


I work for a very conservative company and I’ve been following your advice and dressing conservatively. I think it’s paid off, since in the past three years I received two promotions.

My last promotion created the problem. My new direct supervisor is 49 and an atrocious dresser. He wears inappropriate shirts and the loudest weirdest ties you’ve ever seen. That would be all right, but he constantly kids me about my dress. I’m 26 and when I show up in my customary conservative outfits he refers to me as”the executive kid” and asks me if I can spare some time from my important schedule to do some work.

The kidding is good-natured, and in his first fitness report he gave me an excellent rating. I’ve been wondering if I should dress less conservatively.



Dear JD:

If your boss is 49 and only one step above you, he’s missed several rungs on the executive ladder. He probably knows he’s out of the running and his clothing is his way of saying, I don’t care. Unless you wish to make the same announcement, I suggest you continue to dress like a winner.

As I see it you do have a difficult situation but you’ll only make it worse by dressing inappropriately. Being put in the department run by a man who is going nowhere can be a dead end, particularly if the only logical step up is into his position. If you adopt that departments dress code, it might send out the unfortunate signal that you’re comfortable there and that you fit in.


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Dear Mr. Molloy:

I have always been very comfortable with casual attire however I understand as an accountant it is not in my best interest to dress casually when dealing with banks or the IRS . The reason I bring this up is I worked for 26 years for one of the largest accounting firms in the country and became a partner before I was bought out. I made enough to retire and play golf for the remainder of my life and that is exactly what I intended to do. I moved to South Carolina and played golf almost every day for two months and found while I enjoyed the first month by the end of the second month I was bored. At that point I decided to go back to work. I mention this because you should know something about my background and understand that I’m not working for money or striving for success. Been there done that.


My work uniform consists of suit pants worn with high-quality cotton wash and wear shirts which maintain a fresh crisp look for most of the day. With the last two suits I purchased I ordered two extra sets of pants. When working in the home office I wear tasseled loafers and of course I never wear a tie. Being a fan of yours I carefully researched the uniforms being worn by those in management at most high tech firms and my outfits are based on my findings.


The company I am working for was founded by three technical people, two electrical engineers and a computer programer whose dress sets the standard for the most casual office I’ve ever seen. On most days the senior engineer who is in his late 30s wears jeans and a golf shirt. His partners also wear jeans but they are not nearly as well-kept as the senior partner and they wear T-shirts often with sayings that would only be considered clever on a campus. 80% of the employees take fashion advice from the T-shirt wearers. As I look around today the most outlandish outfit I can see is worn by a young woman engineer. She is wearing fashionably ripped jeans with a tight T-shirt which emphasizes her breasts. I noticed four out of five men stare at her as they pass her cubicle. She is undoubtedly a major distraction and attraction.


The company in less than five years has grown at a 20% rate every year although the growth has slowed for the last two years which is to be expected since they have doubled the number of employees. The firm now employs 73 people about half high-tech specialists. There is no question the performance as a technical organization is exceptional. Between them they have three patents and are applying for four more. It is hard to argue with success but I feel obliged to do so and I think I would have more success if you would back me up.


Before the senior engineer left for four weeks, the three partners took me to lunch and suggested that I relax my dress to fit in with the team. They didn’t give me a chance to respond, they immediately got up and left telling me we would have another meeting when the senior engineer returned. I was outraged, I’ve saved this company over $2 million in a little over six months .


At the next meeting, I’m going to suggest they put in some minimal dress standards and that the three of them maintain a decent haircut and have a suit outfit hanging in a closet that they could put on when needed. I’ve taken them out with clients and bankers and that was counterproductive. Not only have they made it difficult for me to do my job I have seen the reaction of potential clients when they walked into the office. I mentioned this once before and their comment was you win some you lose some. I know they lose many more clients and jobs than they think. What is more I am certain that at the larger corporations the decision-makers are appalled at how unprofessional our office is. There is such a thing as business casual and I think that if they don’t catch on sooner or later they’ll be in over their heads no matter how clever they are. Can you back me up on this?


Name and address withheld



Dear Accountant:


You should start your argument with the fact that you made $2 million for the company in just six months. You assume they know this but don’t make that assumption many brilliant technical people pay no attention to anything outside their field.


I certainly can and will back up your position. There is no question the primary mistake made by new tech firms is they underestimate the importance of image. I’m willing to bet that one or more of these brilliant young techies come from unsophisticated backgrounds. I have found working with high-tech firms where the management refused to understand the impact or importance of image that is usually the case. In their backgrounds image did not have a a significant impact on the success of people they knew and as a result they fail to see its importance.


I found the argument that works best is they were wasting their technical talent by appearing to be irresponsible businesspeople. When I make this argument they always bring up Steve Jobs. However, he is an exception, not the rule. I point out that several times in his career he lost out at least partly due to his image he didn’t appear to be a serious business person. And even though he succeeded in the end, it was after a tremendous struggle. He would have been just as creative if he dressed more conventionally. If that doesn’t convince them I end the argument with three words, poor Bill Gates. When he started Microsoft he dressed casually but as he worked his way toward 40 billion he made the mistake of dressing more traditionally. Imagine how well he could have done if like them he wore T-shirts with cute little sayings.


Explain to the company’s three founders that the people making decisions on whether to use their firm will often have limited technical backgrounds and will not fully or immediately grasp the advantage of their technical skills. They will make their decisions in part based on their backgrounds which in most cases taught them that image is critical to success. That statement is based on over 30 years of research packaging people in technical fields. If they question my assertions and they probably will, have them write to me. I will answer their questions as a fellow techie with data based on years of research which they will understand and appreciate. 

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In theory I am running for president this week as a Republican. As a theoretical candidate I expect to enter the primaries and to take part in this week’s debate. It’s a reasonable expectation since the people at the bottom of the list have less than 1% of the vote and so do I. I do not expect to be invited to take part in the 5 o’clock pre-debate with the rest of the less than one percenter’s so I am going to have to make my case on this blog. Like the rest who are running for the Republican nomination I intend to put forth a series of arguments designed to draw attention to me or any of the candidates and away from Trump. If anyone wishes to steal my ideas and claim them as their own, be my guest.


Before starting you should know that my suggestions are not based on great intellect or insight but on undercover research. With the help of a Republican and a Democrat we enlisted insiders to research the opinions of most of those in their groups. In spite of the fact that I had conducted similar research in corporations it turned out to be a very difficult and expensive undertaking but the results were better than even I imagined.


My first attention-getting argument concerns the deal we just made with the mullahs in Iran. To understand why this is so foolish you must understand that the world does not think the way Americans think and to base foreign policy on that assumption is just plain stupid. When Jimmy Carter was president he told the Shah one way to get his backing was to stop paying off the mullahs. After all, the government paying ministers to control what they said would be wrong in a Southern Baptist world and he assumed it was wrong in the Mideast. Actually it was a very common practice in that part of the world. Almost all governments in the Middle East at that time had the mullahs on their payrolls. They didn’t want these very influential people preaching against them or their policies. Once the Iranian government stopped paying them many preached against the Shah and the Ayatollah Khomeini replaced his government with a theocracy. The next president to make this mistake was George Bush. He attempted to export democracy to the Middle East and if you read the papers when it was being tried, it seemed possible. During one of the elections, the uninformed media showed people raising their dyed fingers after voting, implying that they were just like Americans. In fact, if you questioned them most would probably tell you that they were not voting to support a Democratic Iraq but an Iraq in which their group the Shiites or Sunnis would do better. Most people who live in the Middle East believe that the Muslim faith and democracy are incompatible and they are probably right.


However, the biggest mistake our government has made is the latest deal we made with Iran. What most people including apparently most politicians do not realize is a very small group the most radical Muslim extremist took over the country when the Ayatollah Khomeini died. Without going into detail, I can tell you today they control most of the government of Iran and their version of Islam teaches it is their duty to bring about the end of the world. Most Americans think that’s crazy and I agree but they do believe that and their Muslim neighbors believe they are serious. The minute Iran made this deal, Isis who had achieved the reputation as the most radical group in Islam by chopping off heads, having children kill other children, burning people alive, and killing others in a variety of horrible ways said that they are working to bring about the end of the world. They realize that Iran with its ability to build atomic weapons is going to try to bring about the end of the world which will make them the J.V. of radical Islam. In their world committing mass suicide to end the world in the name of Allah is such an appealing idea that they thought they had to adopt it. Which means we have signed a suicide pact with an atomically armed nation bent on ending the world. Those who are in favor of this deal say our choice is to make the deal or to go to war. What they don’t realize is Iran is already at war with us, in fact as they signed a deal they were in the streets chanting death to America. If we allow this deal to go forward in 10 to 15 years they will have atomic weapons, the technology for long-range missiles and the life expectancy of anyone living near or in a major city in the United States will be very short. One of the apologists for this suicide pact was a Hollywood star who said they love their children the same way we do. What that fellow does not realize is loving their children means they will have them blown up so that they can get into heaven.


A second argument that Republican candidates can use to draw attention to themselves is to accuse the Democrats of conducting a war on poor children, particularly poor black children. Point out that the Democrats have controlled the larger cities with the help of black votes for over 60 years and have chosen to send the worst teachers to the poorest areas. Explain that the only way of improving their schools is to fire those teachers but that cannot be done unless we do away with tenure in poor schools. Tell them you want them to vote for Democrats but only for those who will support good schools in poor black school districts. Promise them you will show them how to organize the mothers in each school and how this will lead to better schools. In each area form a group called MOTHERS AGAINST PERMANENT POVERTY or MAPP. This will eventually improve schools in black areas and it will put the Democratic Party in a untenable position. They will have to choose between the majority of black mothers who want their children to get a good education and the teachers unions.


The argument that our research indicates works best with Hispanics is to tell them since they are relatively new to the country they have a choice. They can choose to be very successful like most Orientals, fairly successful like most whites, or unsuccessful like most blacks. Start by telling them you will send them a copy of a book or a disk of a book written by an oriental mother on how to get your children into the same school as Trump’s children. If they choose not to do this they could of course encourage their children to do well in school the way most white parents do. Finally, they can choose to become black which is what the Democratic Party wants and expects. It’s easy to do because the Democrats will offer them the money without work as they did to the Blacks right after World War II when their families were more stable than white families. You must add that most children don’t do as their parents say they do as their parents do. Warn them if they choose this last route you must expect their daughters to become pregnant, drop out of the high school and live in poverty. They also should expect their sons to quit school early and in many cases to spend their lives in and out of jail. This is a daring argument but believe it or not it works. Particularly if it’s delivered by an Hispanic.


Finally, point out that illegal immigration hurts those at the lower end of the socio-economic scale. But don’t use the word socio- economic that’s a problem with the Republicans often sound like high school or college debaters. Democrats on the other hand are very effective communicators and they can convince people to vote for them because they make emotional arguments. Emotional arguments change votes intellectual ones, seldom do. If you point out that undocumented aliens take jobs mainly from Hispanic American citizens because they work for less you’ll be believed. Almost everyone in the Hispanic community knows someone who has lost their job to an undocumented alien. You can then point out that this situation is going to become worse if you vote for Democrats because the Democratic Party sees undocumented aliens as Democratic voters and is determined to bring in millions more. Your solution to this problem must have three steps: first secure the border, second punish employers who fire American citizens and replace them with undocumented aliens, and third pay Hispanic families to return to their countries. Since it was unfair to bring Hispanics here promising jobs which the Democratic Party did and then prevent them from making a living, I would pay each family a reasonable amount to return home. I would pay for their transportation plus enough to get started on a new life. I know the reaction of many voters to this would be negative but actually it’s cheaper than spending money on healthcare, education and other government programs. This could only be done after the border was sealed.


Almost 2 years ago I stopped writing this blog because I was doing insider research on political issues for two politicians. At the time I had thousands of readers, today because I stopped writing this blog I have very few . The only way my suggestions will have any impact on this election is if after reading this blog you ask half a dozen friends to check it out. If you are willing to do that by Thursday thousands should have read this blog which will make watching the debate very interesting particularly if any of the candidates use one or more of my tactics.

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I think it is necessary to describe how I developed the information on changing voter patterns because that will enable you to realistically evaluate the data we present.  As I mentioned insider research is very difficult and very expensive.  I would like to tell you that I conceived of insider research but that’s not accurate, I literally ran across it by accident.  A branch of a major chain closed in the Republican office holder’s district.  Both he and his Democratic counterpart were interested in what impact that would have upon the voting patterns of the laid-off employees.  Fortunately, one of the employees was also a member of the Republicans election team. She not only worked for him during elections but spent one evening every week answering the telephone at his local office.


He invited this 50ish mother of three to join us for lunch and asked her what she knew about the way her fellow employees were likely to vote.  To his shock and surprise she said that many of them would vote Democratic because they did not wish to lose their unemployment checks which they believed the Republicans would stop.  Several Republicans had argued on TV that paying unemployment benefits for a long period of time discourage people from looking for work.  To understand what follows you must know that this was district where Republicans won by a large margin.


The minute she finished speaking we arranged to have lunch with her every month for the next six months.  The report she gave after three months surprised both the Republican and the Democrat. She said that almost all of the women who worked in the same store with her were now on disability.  When we asked how this happened she said it was very easy to do.  A majority of the recently laid-off women had never reported being injured on the job when they were working at the store but with the help of a local lawyer whom I assume was a Democrat all were put on disability.  This increased the number of women who in the past voted Republican but would now vote Democratic by almost 1/3 because someone had convinced them that their disability payments like their unemployment benefits would be cut off by the Republicans.


After just a few months both of these career politicians were convinced that insider research was the key to uncovering valid information about voting patterns and uncovered positions they could take or thing they could do to effect those patterns.  Each of them wanted to know what they could do to get voters to vote for them and both told me to get to work and find out. I immediately challenged their assumption that insider research would  uncover all they wanted to know and pointed out that the woman who reported to us was unique and not that easily replaced. She had worked for one of them and that person who knew her for years assured us she would report her findings accurately. Finding someone who would report honestly on the thinking of their friends, coworkers or associates would be very difficult.  The only way we could be assured that the report was honest is to have two people reporting.  What is more when we examined store closings in other areas we found that the women often had ongoing relationships after the store closed. The men had no such relationships and virtually disappeared while the women often arranged to go to the unemployment office or other meeting places at the same time.  One of their favorite activities after meeting informally was to go to lunch together.  While monitoring these meetings would be difficult it would not be impossible.  At the time I did not see how we could monitor the men who left and went in separate directions or other groups that did not meet regularly.


I thought they would give up on the idea but they didn’t. Instead they asked if I could examine the problem and see if it was possible to research the voting patterns of groups that did not meet regularly.  One of the reasons they asked us they saw that I had solved other problems that none of the so-called political experts had been able to solve. After studying the problem for about two months, I said I thought it was possible.  I told them it would require developing an entirely new set of research techniques and that would be costly but even more costly would be conducting the research itself.  To my surprise, both of them said do it. When I pointed out once again it would be costly they said without hesitation that they would underwrite the study.


Through trial and error in six months we came up with techniques for insider surveys with any group.  I was right it turned out to be a very expensive way of doing research. The reason it cost so much was two out of three insider surveys produced unverifiable data.  My rule as a researcher has always been unless I could verify data, I ignored it.  We started by researching  the following subjects; how Democrats could convince members of the white suburban middle class and the working poor to vote  Democratic, second how the Republicans could convince African-Americans to vote for Republicans and third how both Democrats and Republicans could persuade Hispanics to vote for them. We were able to conduct insider surveys with these groups and produce verifiable results. This of course was not only interesting, it was a game changer

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How to Win an Election

When I stopped writing this blog a year and a half ago I said I would be out for three weeks and I’m sure you’re wondering what happened.

The emergency turned out to be a minor one but at the time I was training both a Republican and a Democrat to speak like Barack Obama and that changed everything. Whether you love him or hate him you must admit that he is the most persuasive speaker in the political arena. Once I started studying him it was obvious that all those things that his friends and enemies said about how he convinces audiences to like him, to listen to him and believe him are myths. At the time, I had been studying Barack Obama for about three years and believed I had uncovered the secret to his success as a speaker. However, all theoretical research is just that until it is taken into the real world, that is why I was training these two gentlemen.

Approximately six months before I shut down this blog these politicians had completed their training and took their new found skills into the real world. At first they spoke in their districts where they were comfortable and had a friendly audience. The Republican was in a Republican district and the Democrat was in a Democratic district. Had they not been they probably would’ve lost because they were terrible speakers. After I trained them, both were convinced they were winning over audiences so they arranged to speak to groups who did not necessarily agree with them. Their audience reaction was so positive that one fellow said he was thinking of running for president. When I pointed out he was a state representative he said if Obama get elected president so could he. The other gentlemen wasn’t quite as optimistic but he also indicated that he had his eyes on bigger things. I thought at that point I would write “Popularity with Individuals and Audiences” when one mentioned that a large retail store had closed down in his area and he wanted to know what effect it would have on how the employees voted. The second fellow said he’d like to know as well and he would pay for half the research. When I asked if they knew anyone who had worked in that store the first gentlemen said yes, a woman volunteer who worked for him. After we spoke to her several times both were convinced insider research was the way to go. When I pointed out that for a variety of reasons I did not know if it could be done, they said they would underwrite the cost of finding out.

When we came to the conclusion that insider research was possible without batting an eye both agreed to have their staffs conduct the research. In addition to our access to the data we collected, I had to agree not to appear on radio, television or write about the research until six months after it was completed. I further agreed not to use these gentlemen’s names nor identify anyone on their staff or the people who actually did the undercover research until I had their permission in writing. Six or seven months ago one of the candidates told me he no longer had an interest in politics and three weeks later the second gentleman became ill and gave up his political career as well. I’m sure their heirs will hold me to this agreement

I have both good news and bad news. The good news using insider research we discovered the best arguments for Republicans and Democrats to use with different groups. For example, we discovered the best arguments to convince different Hispanic voters to vote Republican or Democrat. While all are referred to as Hispanics, Central Americans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans all respond to different arguments. If the Republicans wish to capture a larger part of the black vote it is counterproductive to ask blacks to vote Republican. Republicans would be much better off asking them to vote for the right Democrat. Obviously, that takes more explanation but the key issue is education. If the Democrats wish to capture a larger segment of the suburban middle-class vote there is one argument that will work wonders, however the same argument can be used by Republicans. I think who ever uses it first may be the winner. In short whichever side I work for is going to win.

The bad news for me and the good news for you is with the restrictions put on my use of the information I gathered I doubt if I can sell it to anyone. I’m asking politicians to buy a pig in a poke and I don’t blame them for not wanting to do that. If I could get a half dozen candidates to take me up on my offer to only pay me if they win, I might have a chance of demonstrating the validity of my research and advice . However, since I don’t think that will happen, I’m going to give away that research between now and election day in this blog.

Stay tuned

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I had a family emergency and had to leave town.

John T.

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I have been working as a chemist in a very conservative company for the past 22 years. Before I started with this company I worked for a cosmetics firm. The executives in that high-fashion business dressed very well and I started reading GQ and dressing fashionably. From the first day with my present firm I have been dressing fashionably although I admit when I’m in the laboratory I usually wear a lab coat. However, at all corporate meeting, lunches and after work I am dressed fashionably In all that time no one has ever commented on my dress and I have been promoted several times. I concede that those promotions were at least in part due to my skill as a chemist but if you were right I would not have been treated so well. How can you claim that wearing a corporate uniform is essential to getting ahead?

Atlanta, Georgia

Dear KM:

When you put on a lab coat you are putting on the appropriate corporate uniform for a chemist. In addition you’re in a field where the results of your efforts can be objectively measured. That is why engineers, computer programmers and other high tech people often share your belief, unfortunately for them it is not true . Particularly if the next step up requires managing others.I have been talking to American executives for many years about image and how it affects people’s careers and I assure you that today, as in the past, in companies with conservative as well as casual dress codes how you dress affects your ability to move ahead. I know many high tech people like yourself believe that they do not have to dress for success. Nothing is further from the truth.

I had not conducted a survey in over two years and your letter forced me to conduct my 100th survey of American executives. I started by questioning 46 executives in 24 states and asking them if wearing the right clothing was absolutely essential to getting ahead in their companies. Now the “right clothing”is not necessarily the traditional conservative suit, shirt and tie or a feminine version of the same uniform. Since your letter questioned whether wearing a uniform of any type was essential to getting ahead I feel obliged to point out in advertising, TV and movie industries the uniform is usually a high-fashion outfit. Although the people who produced these garments would not admit it high-fashion clothing often can be and is a uniform.

As for the impact of clothing on one’s career I think the best example I can give is a partner in a New York law firm. He made this statement over 20 years ago; ‘If any young lawyer works for this firm for more than a year and in all that time doesn’t get the message that conservative clothing is absolutely essential to moving up he is too stupid to become a partner in this firm or any other. And I assure you he will not become a partner in any Wall Street firm in fact I doubt if he will keep his job.” That is not a new idea. Approximately 70% of American business executives that we’ve questioned over the years have told us that wearing suitable attire which in their minds generally means conservative suits, shirts and ties for men and something equally conservative for women is required for those being considered for management positions. Our latest survey produced almost identical results

An even more interesting finding was that approximately the same number told us that when a young person was turned down for a position because of the way he or she dressed, they were almost never told the reason they were passed over. What is more even though dress may be mentioned in a yearly appraisal or other company forms that allow for such comments, I’ve never run across a document that openly stated, not dressing as expected will limit your career. However, anybody with half a brain should be able to figure that out. The reason they avoid making such statements in print is they are aware there are organizations that will sue them if it looks as if they are publicly stepping on the constitutional rights of their employees to dress like damn fool’s. The executives who construct these documents know that if they get their companies involved in this type of lawsuit it will negatively impact their careers. As a result, corporate America discourages executives from publicly discussing image or related topics. When on occasion they do, they do not shout, they whisper.

While American executives are whispering the fashion industry is shouting. They refer to their industry as the rag trade which is a crude way of saying they are in the business of selling cloth. That is why they spend millions of dollars every month advertising clothing and why they have such great influence in newspapers. I wrote a column for 35 years in spite of the fashion industry who threatened newspapers that they would withdraw their advertising if they ran my column. Therefore it is not surprising that many people listen to the voice of the fashion industry which has a vested interest in everyone throwing out everything they own today and buying something new tomorrow. The latest example of this can be seen on television you may have noticed that many actors are wearing suits with narrow lapels, shirts with smaller collars and narrow ties. It costs the fashion industry millions of dollars to attempt to get men to buy new outfits because the fashion industry has made today’s outfits appear dated. They think it’s money well spent and they may be right.

The unfortunate people who follow the whims of the fashion industry are almost never the sons and daughters of executives. They have learned at their daddies pinstripe knee the rules of dressing for success. It is usually people from less privileged backgrounds who most likely to follow the pied piper’s of the fashion industry and a result limit their success. They do so because they only hear the loud voice of the fashion industry and quiet voice of success.

If you come from a limited background and have no role models of success in your life you have two choices listen to me or find role models. If you are hesitant to listen to me, pick two to six men and women in your field who are already successful. I know how hard it is to find role models so I you can choose just two, however, if you can find six you are far better off because two can be exceptions to the rule. When you look at six or more role models you know you’re getting a good cross-section of successful people in your field. Take very careful notes on how they dress and then attempt to emulate them. That will dramatically enhance your prospects of moving up in any organization or in any career.

Good luck!

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Dear Mr. Molloy:

After 39 years in a chemical laboratory, I retired. I’m not complaining about my time working for a large chemical company, I actually enjoyed my work but I was looking forward to playing golf and going fishing. I bought a place in north-central Florida called the Villages. It’s a fairly affluent community, the only problem is many of the people have limited educational backgrounds and having earned a PhD I didn’t exactly fit in. I paid over 300,000 for my house yet most of my neighbors are retired civil servants with pensions as large as mine if not larger. There is one ex police officer from northern California who has an $112,000 pension. The reason I know is he bragged to everybody about his pension and I don’t blame him. One of my golf playing buddies, a lawyer from the Northeast, set up practice specializing in estate planning after he arrived. He told me most of his clients were ex-civil-service employees who lived in the villages and had million-dollar estates.

I’m making the Villages sound like a terrible place and it is not. If you own a place here you have free access to a half a dozen of the best golf courses in Florida. In addition, there is a cadre of well-educated, sophisticated retirees who form a subculture so after two or three months I was enjoying myself. When I was working I never had enough time to play golf so I took lessons after I arrived and I was beginning to get back into the swing of things.(Pun intended.) I also purchased a 30 foot boat that I docked on a nearby lake and used about twice a week. For the first six months life was beautiful, however it gradually became boring. I found since I went fishing two or three days a week and playing golf the other days, it became almost like a job. It was a pleasant job but if you meet the same people every day and do the same thing every day it’s very much like going to work. Once I discovered that I decided to go back to work at least part-time.

One of my duties as a senior chemist in my old company was to help companies, schools and police departments to set up laboratories or new equipment In addition, I ran courses for employees of these laboratories to introduce them to the latest techniques or equipment in their areas. I was also in charge of producing training videos that accompanied new products either produced by my firm or others. One of the reasons I went back into business was I was approached by clients of my old company to help them overcome problems when introducing new products or new equipment.

I opened the business three years ago and for the first year clients came to me. Once the company started to grow I began advertising my services and hiring employees. Since I needed a considerable space I bought an old warehouse and set up my laboratory there. My problem is partially due to my success. Since my company and is new and unique it has been the subject of a number of magazine articles. The majority have been complimentary, however, I’ve had several understate the significance of what we have accomplished. I’m not sure but I think there are two reasons for these negative articles. The first is ignorance. Reporters without technical backgrounds simply don’t understand what we are doing and judge us by our image. While our laboratory facilities are very impressive to those who know, it doesn’t impress those who interview us in our office which is located right outside the laboratory. It is small, cramped and frankly being part of a warehouse, not very impressive. I hate to spend money upgrading our office space just to impress the press, shouldn’t what we have accomplished, do that? What do you think?

A confused chemist

Dear Chemist,

If you want to succeed in a new field you have to impress the press. I know this because when I was America’s first and only scientific image consultant I made the same mistake. After being in business almost 13 years I was interviewed by a very clever reporter from Time magazine who because of his personal experience understood exactly what I was doing. His article, which referred to me as America’s first wardrobe engineer kicked off a series of interviews by the press including one by the Wall Street Journal..

At the time. I worked out of a very small office on 55th St. in New York City. The reason I chose that office was I had owned a men’s clothing store in the same building. When I closed the store to work as a full-time consultant, I thought it would be advantageous to keep my address and telephone number which many of my clients had.

I stayed at that location for close to a year and only moved after I ran across the reporter from the Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal would’ve been the ideal place to get positive publicity so I prepared carefully for that interview. I spent the week before the interview contacting Fortune 500 clients and obtaining permission to use them as references. When the morning of the interview came I waited on pins and needles for my 11 o’clock appointment.

When the reporter walked in and saw my very unimpressive office, he did not even try to hide his disappointment. In fact I think he was more disgusted than disappointed. He never conducted the interview. He said it was not the type of operation he expected and left in less than five minutes. I never got a chance to tell him that I was making six figures which was rather impressive in the early 60s and had over a dozen Fortune 500 companies as clients. I was sure that would have impressed him if it were not for my unimpressive office. During that five minutes, he implied that wardrobe engineering was more fiction than fact. I thought to myself what a jackass, the fact that he was shortchanging my interview because he wasn’t impressed by my office proved that image did count. I shouldn’t be so rough on him because he did teach me a valuable lesson. After his visit I immediately rented a corner office in a new, shiny, prestigious, high rise building on third Avenue and hired a decorator. It turned out to be a worthwhile investment.

If you are serious about setting up a new consulting business, rent a large office in a prestigious building and hire a decorator to give it a professional look. With anything less, you will turn off reporters, businesspeople and potential clients. Pavlov was right. We are conditioned by our experiences, and the experiences of most people has conditioned them to think that competent, important consultants have prestigious offices.

Get one, immediately!

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