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The MBA Dress Code

By now, the HBS student body has finalized its sartorial transformation into the peculiar combination of waterproof boots and Burberry scarves that can only be described as “British peasant farmer couture”. As this transition takes place, it becomes clearer and clearer that despite the changing of the seasons and the passing of time, a unifying MBA dress code does exist on this campus – and understanding it is critical to your success, both within the classroom and without. Never fear – the Harbus has your back! Soon you too will be dressing like you picked your wardrobe up off the ground at the scene of a tragic Vineyard Vines factory explosion – all you have to do is follow our quick and easy guide to MBA attire. Let’s start from the very top, shall we?

Firstly – are the Red Sox still actively playing in the World Series? No? Then take off that hat, you look ridiculous.

Sunglasses are a must for any MBA student, whether EC or RC, but only under the condition that they have the word “Ray-Ban” etched into the glass in the upper corner. All other types of glasses must be worn ironically, and are preferably constructed in loud colors out of cheap plastics. Adding section flair to these knock-offs has the ability to fully cement their sartorial value, as well as giving RCs license to wear them in the classroom.

There are three acceptable brands of shirts that men can wear here at the Harvard Business School – Brooks Brothers non-iron dress shirts, Brooks Brothers slim-fit non-iron dress shirts, and Brooks Brothers extra-slim-fit non-iron dress shirts. All prints and designs are completely acceptable (other than their 2011 Spring Collection, what were they thinking?), but to maximize adherence to dress standards try to keep your dominant fabric color either pink or blue. “But Raamin,” you may ask, “what if we want to dress more casually?” to which I would confusedly reply, “What are you, poor?”

Snobbery aside, the casual top does appear to have its place here at the Harvard Business School – although it is perhaps most appropriately left on the third floor of the Kong where it belongs. If you absolutely must stray from tried and true dress shirts, at least limit yourself to collared shirts with appropriately-exclusive animals adorning their breast pockets – horses, alligators, whales, and sheep all possess a discerning eye, and can transform what would otherwise be quite boorish garb into a suitably exclusive alternative to a shirt with buttons that manage to go all the way down the front.

Pants are an area where men have the opportunity to really show off their individuality – all manner of options are completely acceptable! You can wear grey slacks, slightly darker grey slacks, slightly lighter grey slacks, khakis, or hell, even super dark-wash jeans if you’re feeling particularly anarchic. As long as you remember to wear an appropriate belt and to leave the flashier colors (like brown – what an attention-grabber!) and button-fly contraptions to the Europeans, you should be just fine.

If you’re looking for shoes, don’t forget this one simple rule: laces may be optional, but leather is not. Go wild: loafers, oxfords, wingtips, or even bluchers (just make sure for the love of all that is holy you stay away from square toes). Remember, wearing shoes exclusively in their appropriate context is of paramount importance – running shoes are for running, tennis shoes are for tennis, and Air Jordans are for Michael Jordan. You are not Michael Jordan.

And finally, ladies – don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about you. While my personal experience does lean heavily towards the male persuasion, I have some words of wisdom for you as well. From what I have been able to discern from my totally-not-creepy observation of women and their attire, the female version of the HBS dress code requires women to wear some clothes on top, rather fewer clothes on bottom, and encourages, but does not require shoes. Attempting to nail down specificity beyond that appears to be a fool’s errand.

Good luck, and happy dressing!

November 20, 2013
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