Wednesday, February 22, 2012 myBiz Blog
Grainger Casual: Why the Wisconsin School of Business BBA Program Needs a Wardrobe Makeover by Alex Neubauer

As a student in the WSoB I’m sure it has been drilled into your head to be sure you always have a killer elevator pitch at the ready. Something that in under two minutes can clearly explain why you’re awesome, just how awesome you are and how you got to be that awesome.

And I can only assume that the name “elevator pitch” came from just that – an elevator…

Come with me as I run off on a quick tangent, a small anecdote if you will:

You’re on the way up to the BCC to have your resume looked over by the best in the biz. You step into the elevator and from behind you hear someone call out “Hey! Hold that door!”

Next thing you know, you look up and see CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein staring back at you (hey, we’re a target school – you never know). HOLY *&!?*&%#$*!&*%$#$%$!!!! You recognize him from the extensive company research you’ve been doing on Goldman Sachs and their competitors. You freeze at first, but quickly regain confidence. You’ve got this. You’ve been waiting your whole life for this moment. Your elevator speech is dead on and you know that he’ll be eating out of the palm of your hand by the time you reach the third floor (the only time you’ve ever been glad that the elevators in Grainger move at a glacial pace).

Just before you raise your hand for that firm handshake (that you’ve been practicing) to introduce yourself, you take a look at what he’s wearing. You assure yourself that his navy blue suit costs more than your in-state tuition at this University (out of state is a stretch). His tie is knotted into a perfectly sculpted double Windsor. His cuff links shine like a 10th grader’s forehead. Wow.

Then you glance back at yourself. You notice a frayed shoelace on your New Balance sneakers that have obviously been untied for the past week. The sweatpants that you’re wearing are from that [fraternity/sorority] formal you went to last fall. You immediately regret the choice you made this morning to wear your “JDHS LAX 4 LIFE” tee shirt. And then there’s your hat. Who knew snap-backs with a pre-frayed brim would ever go out of style

You’re shell-shocked and can’t believe you’re about to introduce yourself to one of the most powerful men in the business world looking the way you do. Mid-thought you hear a DING and the elevator stops. You arrive at the second floor and Mr. Blankfein gets out (who takes the elevator up one floor, seriously?). You feel the breeze as the doors close and so too does your future…

Okay, so maybe a bit extreme, but humor me for a moment: This story is in fact possible. Except instead of the Goldman Sachs CEO it could have very well been the person you’re scheduled to interview with tomorrow. It could have been a recruiter you haven’t met yet but could lead you to a future internship. It could have been anyone. The fact is that you never know just who you’re going to run into in the elevators of Grainger Hall. It is for this reason, among others why I believe that the BBA program here at UW – Madison needs a wardrobe makeover.

The moment you received your high school diploma should have also been the instance when you graduated from the thought process that the “I just rolled out of bed look” is cool. If it took you a few years longer, fine, it should definitely have hit you by the time that acceptance letter to the WSoB arrived.

The fact is that dress similar to the type I’ve described above is unacceptable in a business school of this caliber. Most everyone will have to at the very least dress business casual for his or her job in the future. The MBA program has instituted a business casual dress code, so why can’t the undergraduate program do something along the same lines? Your undergrad years are a learning experience and transitional period from the high school version of yourself to the career ready and professional you. Along that same thinking, why not institute a “transitional” dress recommendation here in the WSoB? I present to you: Grainger Casual.

Grainger Casual. Mr. Real Estate himself, Norm Glazer, first coined the phrase and I’ve since adopted it. The term has grown to mean the type of dress that falls somewhere between “college student casual” and business casual. Norm explains that Grainger Casual is “the kind of attire where people who aren’t in the WSoB say, ‘why do you look so nice today?’” Just as Norm alludes, there is no true definition of what Grainger casual is. It only requires you dress in a way that will positively reflect upon yourself, the school that you are a part of, and the network of peers and alumni that surround you. You are a young business professional; dress like one.

Allow yourself two extra minutes of thought each morning to process how you want to present yourself that day. Remember that you never know where your next job or internship opportunity will come from.

Allow me to arrive at the point:

I know of few student groups on campus more proud of who they are than the School of Business. Others on campus call it arrogance, but I know it’s the sense of pride that comes from working hard to be a part of something truly special. Let’s show the world just how proud we are to say, “I AM the Wisconsin School of Business” while proudly wearing Grainger Casual.

Alex is a senior majoring in Real Estate and Finance.  To comment on his post or the idea of Grainger Casual, please check out the myBiz Facebook page or email

CATEGORIES: Business Students