April 26, 2005

Oh, Goody.

I don't mind dressing up - for special occasions. And work is sometimes a special occasion.

But the whole notion of dressing up for work has always left me completely cold. Suits and their paraphernalia are expensive. Dressing up every day adds more mindless busy-work - ironing, dry-cleaning, bla bla bla - to keep track of in a life that's already too full of same.

So, be still my heart, American business' gift to the textile industry is regaining its infernal momentum:

Instead of buying khaki pants and golf shirts, men are snatching up pastel ties, woven shirts with French cuffs, pinstriped suit jackets and patterned pocket squares.

"We're seeing a huge resurgence in the retro look from the 1980s -- the navy blazer with khaki pants, hot-pink ties, lime-green shirts and even the lightweight V-neck sweater," said Curtis Rottweiler, visual merchandising manager at the Mall of America. "The trends have come full circle."

Like the 1980s, the comeback of the suit is at least partially driven by corporate America, which is adopting a dressier look after the casually clad 1990s.

Put another way; since American business is in a period of retrenchment after the recession, the bean-counters - the HR twinkies and "process people" and other useless mouths that spent the nineties wishing that their performance could be judged by their style sense rather than their impotence at producing anything useful - are back in charge of things. Until we have another technological leap forward that launches the producers ahead of the dead weight, I guess we're back to dressing for success, rather than actually producing something of worth.

Oh, goody.

Just 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies allow casual clothing in the workplace, according to an October 2004 survey by America's Research Group, a consumer behavior and market research firm from Charleston, S.C. That compares with 30 to 50 percent just three years ago.
And is American business doing better now than five years ago?


Posted by Mitch at April 26, 2005 12:53 PM | TrackBack

I can't find the article right now, but I recently read a piece describing these articles (the one you saw is only one of many) as being stereotypical astroturf*. The specific claim made was that Men's Wearhouse had hired a PR firm to push the idea that suits were resurging in popularity.

* For anyone who doesn't know the term, "astroturfed PR" refers to press releases written to be presented verbatim (or nearly so) as straight news stories by overworked or lazy "reporters".

Posted by: Doug Sundseth at April 26, 2005 05:26 PM

Re comment above: the story is here:

Posted by: Jonathan at April 26, 2005 06:23 PM

We had an extra good instance of this where I work. Our VP froths at the mouth at the thought of any of us wearing blue jeans to work. No more casual Fridays. A recent March of Dimes promo that they pushed was "donate $5 and you can wear blue jeans to work on March of Dimes Friday!". The VP sent an announcement out to all employees - "Please show your support by donating $5 for this worthwhile cause...but at the same time remember that blue jeans are not allowed to be worn in the work place under any circumstances"

Posted by: Elizabeth at April 26, 2005 10:37 PM

Ever hear of chefpants? They're black, they have a crease, they have an elastic waistband & drawstring for comfort, and they wear & launder like iron. I wear them when I'm doing yardwork in cold weather and also on the local golf course. They are a little "cool", meant to be worn in a hot commercial kitchen, not a Minnesota winter. You'd need to wear something untucked over the waist to hide the drawstring. Otherwise they'd be great office wear. The pants are about 30 bucks a pair if you buy them on the web.

Posted by: Terry at April 27, 2005 12:36 AM

The solution, of course, is to work at home like me. In my jammies. And I'm not even a blogger! The only time I have been in a setting that required ties and coats was in Asia. I don't see America going back to the days of suits and ties. Every now and then I see an old movie and think it would be great to look as dapper as guys did then... suits, ties, hats. Then the feeling goes away and I hop back in my jammers.

Posted by: chriss at April 27, 2005 04:02 AM

I think the way chriss does...I watch the old movies and people looked so "grownup"...and it's not even the old movies...look at old family pictures. The sexes were defined-no one looked like an adolescent in baggy t-shirt and jeans and that's the way most people look today. People on the streets looked like solid-citizens...but then on the other hand...I don't want to wear nylons and heels to work...I really can't imagine all the ironing they would have had to do back then!

Once I get home from work, it's into the sweatpants and comfy shirt-how did June Cleaver hang out around the house all day in a dress?!

But the real bottom line is that it costs too much to dress up all the time...I would spend everything I make at work on clothes (and some do) if I were to dress like that.

Posted by: Colleen at April 27, 2005 07:01 AM

Jonathan: that's the article, thanks. I even have a link almost directly to the article, but couldn't remember which link. Access to my RAM gets more random all the time.

Posted by: Doug Sundseth at April 27, 2005 01:38 PM

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