in business schools, learning dress codes


"I never put so much pressure on my outfit as the day I spent my job interview at Chanel", recalls Mathieu, freshly graduated from Inseec. Until then, he hadn't asked himself too many questions. To sit for admission to business school juries, he bought himself a jacket, light shirts and classic pants. A panoply that he brought out at each important moment of his schooling.

But there it was another matter. It was about being hired in a luxury company. After hesitating for a long time between a very classic outfit and "Something elegant but with a touch of fantasy, to show that I was sensitive to fashion", he finally preferred not to take any risks and pulled out his usual jacket with new pants " classier ".

"Our students learn to introduce themselves to an employer and therefore to adopt the right dress code, knowing that it varies according to companies and sectors" Jérôme Troiano, career manager at Edhec

If the habit is not supposed to make the monk, in reality "Clothing remains a strong cultural and identity marker", emphasizes sociologist Isabel Boni-Le Goff, specialist in the consulting sector. So, to be likely to be selected during a job interview or internship, it is better to present yourself with the "good" outfit. Business schools, which make professional integration their main asset, have understood this.

This is discussed in the hiring workshops or during interview mock sessions. Precepts put into practice through various events organized by schools. So at Inseec, "Students must come in a suit or a tailor during case study presentations or a major oral at the end of master 1," says Alexandra Vignolles, director of educational innovation. At Edhec, at the start of the year, two days were devoted to "networking". "Our students learn to introduce themselves to an employer and therefore to adopt the right dress code, knowing that it varies according to companies and sectors of activity", explains Jérôme Troiano, career manager of the Lille school.

Classic and neutral

"If he is in good shape during the job interview, the candidate shows that he understands the culture of the company, the message that it wants to convey, and that he adheres to it. It is also a way for the recruiter to see if the young person can integrate or not ", observes Susan Nallet, career director of Grenoble Ecole de management (GEM). And as the job market is very competitive, it is out of the question for candidates to take the slightest risk. "We want to succeed so much that, even if sometimes we have the impression of being disguised, we play the game, confirms Mathieu. Even if it means putting yourself in an uncomfortable financial situation by buying very expensive outfits. "

"By putting on a costume, many students feel like they are like a frame. »Oumaya Hidri-Neys, sociologist

In schools where you learn to become a manager, and therefore to integrate the cultural practices of the job, formal attire is required from the admission panels to the school. A practice that students have integrated. "It would not have occurred to me to pass the oral exams other than in costume. It's part of the ceremonial ", says Thomas, a student at Montpellier Business School. "And it gives you confidence", agrees Alexandre, student at GEM. Words that don't surprise sociologist Oumaya Hidri Neys: "By putting on a costume, many students feel like they are like a frame. "

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This does not prevent them, once in the world of work, from relaxing their outfit. This is the path adopted by Louise, a student at Inseec, who follows her work-study program at Thales. For her first day in the business, she tied her hair and chose "Classic and neutral clothes" : jacket, pants and flat sandals. "I wanted to probe the clothing temperature of the service in which I was going to work before allowing myself a little fantasy. " She then found that the code was fairly free. “My chef is in a suit and tie, but his colleague sometimes puts on jeans with moccasins. "

Relaxed codes

This trend towards less formality is found in most companies, where suits and ties are losing ground. But this relaxation is very relative and remains largely codified. As evidenced by the "Friday wear", this less formal outfit reserved for Friday, came from the United States in the 1980s. "This day when we come dressed in the office as we wish in reality responds to another form of rule", recalls Agnès Ceccarelli, associate professor at the ICN Business school.

In the finance or consultancy sector, or even in very large companies, classicism is always in order. "Here, you have to have style, that is to say knowing how to move, to stand, to express yourself, but also to dress. The right outfit: a dark suit and a light shirt for men, with or without the tie depending on the circumstances. A tailor with a blouse for women, possibly embellished with discreet accessories ", details Haude Rivoal, labor sociologist.

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In tech start-ups or in the world of communication, freedom of dress is only apparent. Certainly, the suit and tie is relegated to the back of the closet. But it is replaced by a new coded uniform, based on jeans, sneakers and T-shirt. A look that aims, according to Haude Rivoal, " to show flexibility and agility, by bringing a breath of youth to the company. "

“Women are subject to a paradoxical injunction. They must be a real woman and at the same time a real manager. »Isabel Boni-Le Goff

To conclude that we can go to work with anything on our back would be to go a little quickly. "It is actually a transformation of codes, but not a disappearance of these", insists the sociologist. For the young employee, the difficulty then consists in appearing relaxed … without being neglected. A subtle balance, all the more "That we do not have the same clothing tastes according to our environment of origin, nor the same amount of money to devote to it", Oumaya Hidri Neys point.

Adopting the right outfit under the right circumstances seems more difficult for female students than for male students. “Women are subject to a paradoxical injunction. They are developing a strategy that aims to take pieces from the male wardrobe to be legitimate, because they are elements that symbolize authority and expertise and convey the signs of managerial authority. But, at the same time, they are supposed not to give up their femininity. So they tinker around to meet the gender norms assigned to them ”, analyzes Isabel Boni-Le Goff.

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In the field of counseling, largely dominated by men, women are particularly exposed. "If they do not comply with what is expected of them, for example by adopting an outfit deemed to be too sexualized, they are exposed to mockery, insults, even harassing behavior", noted the sociologist. In order to avoid being stigmatized, women therefore prefer to wear neutral clothes, even a mat. And that from school. Emma, ​​a student at EM Normandie, understood this. During the week, in her business school, she dresses so "To go unnoticed". On weekends, she "Spring skirts and accessories".