How We Were “Liberated” from Formal Work Clothes

casual attire

I was cleaning out some old files and found the “Dress Code Policy” for one of my early jobs.

Coat and tie required. No jeans. Closed-top shoes. No sneakers.

Etc. Etc. Etc. Blah blah blah.

That was 1998.

Times have changed.

I remember the first time I worked at a place with “Casual Fridays.”

It was a BIG deal when the policy changed.

After lots of meetings and lots of debate, we were finally…FREE.

Free to ditch the tie, unbutton our collars and — gasp! — wear jeans.

Thanks, boss.

And thanks, too, to the visionaries at the Hawaiian Fashion Guild.

They’re the folks who hatched the idea for casual work-wear back in the 1960s.

The Guild was a manufacturing association that wanted to promote the sale of “Aloha” shirts. So in 1962 they sent two free shirts to each member of the state legislature and promoted the idea that businesses should allow casual attire in the summer.

The legislature passed a resolution that encouraged the “return to ‘aloha attire’ during the summer months for the sake of comfort and in support of the 50th state’s garment industry.”

Three years later, the Guild promoted “Aloha Friday” — encouraging businesses to allow aloha attire year-round on Fridays. The idea spread like wildfire. Shirt sales skyrocketed. The idea spread to California where it evolved into “Casual Fridays.”

Mission accomplished, Hawaiian Fashion Guild.

Their code name for that mission: “Operation Liberation.”

So many marketing lessons here. I’ll focus on one…

The Hawaiian Fashion Guild achieved its mission because it understood what it sells.

The Guild wasn’t selling shirts. It was selling comfort and, most importantly, it was selling liberation.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You don’t sell products and services. You sell the feeling your products and services give your customers. You sell the outcomes that result from your products and services.

Operation Liberation is a classic example of this.

I keep telling stories that emphasize this idea because it’s critical for your success. If you pitch products and services — without getting to the heart of what you really sell, your business will struggle. 

Don't go away yet..

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.

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