Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Dress For Survival (If Not Success)

My wife, who is a theatrical costume designer, tells me that I look good in suits, or even just with a shirt and tie. I am inclined to concur. I actually enjoy dressing up, and would gladly do so if I worked in an office that required it. Regrettably, all the places I have worked at since the turn of the century have mandated a "casual" look. If you show up wearing a jacket and tie, management will look at you askance and wonder aloud, "Is he interviewing?"

Casual dress at the workplace is intended to make erstwhile "white collar" workers feel at home, and it is certainly easier on the bank account. Nonetheless, I believe it manifests the corporate caste system in action with its usual insidious subtlety. Wearing suits and ties is reserved for "important people", those who must present themselves to the "public eye" - and we Morlocks who toil in those subdivided backrooms commonly known as cubicles don't qualify. In other words, casual dress at the workplace is never universal, and a class chasm exists between those who wear it and those who don't.

I draw the line at jeans, and prefer khaki Dockers as a rule. Jeans will blue-collarize even the most ambitious office worker, and I sincerely sympathize with those forced to witness the plumber's crack of the guy in the cubicle next to theirs. To my chagrin however, I have learned that pleated Dockers are verboten, according to the fashion guide below. They tend to give the hips of any man who wears them a womanly broadness. I don't recall having that problem myself, but I remain advised. Beta males must still resemble males, after all.

Other tips include the following. For ladies, avoid cleavage, bare midriffs and flip-flops. For men - other than the veto of pleated trousers - crew neck T shirts are best (if you are young and insist on wearing T shirts), but V-neck sweaters are preferred on older guys (i.e., the time-honored "cardigan" look). Wear belts; that helps. Check out the link below for more details.

"In today's workplace, you still can dress cool and casual -- to a degree" from Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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