First, I find it ironic that the study about non-conformity came from Harvard students, whose most famous living alumni are Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Matt Damon — all Harvard dropouts.
(Read more: Ageism: Confessions of a young trader)
But what's really disappointing about this appearing in the Wall Street Journal is that this advice would never fly on Wall Street. It is especially bad to the younger more impressionable types who are looking to stand out.
Consider the example of the hipster professor making a better impression than the clean-shaven guy. Of course, kids in college want to be hipsters. Hipsters all want to fashion themselves as free thinkers but they all dress the same and now live in Brooklyn so there goes their individulaity. The hipster professor seemed cooler but that was in academia — but that doesn't fly in the real world. Wall Street isn't the Dead Poets Society. And tell me, in the real world, if you went to the doctor for something major, would you trust one that looks like a hipster?
On Wall Street, you don't want to stand out for what you wear or your "look." You want to stand out because you are good at your job. You want to stand out for going the extra mile not for going to the extra mile shopping for the right ascot.
(Read more: 10 tips for young Wall Street: Turney Duff)
If you are exceptional at your job you can get away with anything. Mark Zuckerberg can wear a hoodie all he wants. Jim Rogers can wear a bowtie and we give him respect because of his track record and the fact that he's worth $300 million.
But you need to know with conviction that you are a Mark Zuckerberg or a Jim Rogers before you go making a fashion throwdown like that. The first sign that you are not performing up to par you will get a criticism like, "Maybe if he spent half as much thought into his long emerging-markets position as he did into his outfit, we wouldn't be losing so much money."
Fair or not, that is reality. Dress accordingly.
(Read more: Strippers, dwarfs & coke: The real Wall Street)
I remember back when I was a trader, a young guy came in wearing loud suspenders thinking he was the next Gordon Gekko. He had a belt buckle with the letter "F " for Fendi on it but that's not the word we used for it. I told him, "Nice belt, cowboy. Are you trying to dress like Lane Frost and ride Red Rock?" (Lane Frost was a famous bull rider and Red Rock was a notorious bull who bucked every rider within 8 seconds during his pro rodeo career.)
I believe someone talked to him and told him to tone it down. But suffice to say, young Gordon Gekko wasn't successful on Wall Street. His absurd fashion choices reflected the fact that he was so cocky he didn't understand you have to humble. I'm not sure what he does now but I don't think he lasted too long on Wall Street.