Costumes, Dress Codes Lead to Quandry at Big 5 Firm

What happens when traditionally conservative suit-and-tie accountants enter into a strategic partnership with more relaxed dressed-down dot-coms? Technical talent is phenomenal, but the cultural and communications gap needs interpreters to keep both sides working in tandem.

Case in point: a halloween party was held in New York City at one of PricewaterhouseCoopers' ventures, methodfive (it holds 12 percent stake in the company), a Web-development company that does business with PWC offices around the world.

PWC partners were worried that dressing in costume would tarnish their image as professionals, and only when it was agreed that the chief of methodfive would don a costume, did the heads of the PWC office agree to dress up.

But the ramifications of the incident go further than just one Halloween party; the quandry is indicative of what large firms have been wrestling with for some time with regard to how dressed up they should be to meet clients and customers.

At the same time, Internet companies who have traditionally employed IT professionals and never dressed up, are beginning to wonder just how formal they should be when working with corporate counterparts.

The right answer will emerge someday . . .

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