Friday, January 27, 2012

Casual Friday? Or the Downfall of Civilization as We Know it?

I don’t know about you, but today is definitely “Casual Friday” for me. It’s a jeans shirt, tennis shoes, hair pulled back in a ponytail kinda day for me. This might be okay, except that I just noticed a mustard-like stain on the front of my shirt, which is weird because I’m not even a big fan of mustard. Even worse, it is undoubtedly a permanent stain since I just took the shirt out of the dryer. Darn.

Generally, I am a little more pulled together when I show up for work. I wear dress slacks and nice shoes. And a blazer or sweater is more often than not part of my daily dress code. It’s not really what I would consider a business wardrobe, but I am still usually the most dressed up person in our office.

See, I work in a small office and we have no dress code whatsoever. Well, other than we are required to be, uh, dressed when we show up for work.

But our graphics guy wears a uniform of a T-shirt, jeans and a backwards-facing ball cap every day of the year. I’m not even sure if he still has hair under that ball cap – I haven’t seen his hairline in years. My one boss wears sweatshirts and jeans in the winter and T-shirts and shorts in the summer. If he has a meeting, he might substitute khakis for the jeans, but that’s not a given. And my other boss wears jeans that are too big, so he looks like he’s imitating kids who have adopted the “Pants On Da Ground” look. Purely by accident, I’m sure, since he’s pretty clueless when it comes to fashion trends. Besides, he has just become a card-carrying member of Medicare so I don’t think he’s flashing everyone his “draws” on purpose.

So technically I fit right in with everyone else today.

But I wonder – is there even such a thing as Casual Friday anymore or is every day Casual Day for most working folks?

When I first started out in the professional work world, men wore sports jackets and ties and dress shoes – if they weren’t wearing actual suits, that is. Women wore dresses or suits with some sort of hosiery. It was not optional – unlike today where all manner of bare legs are hanging out there for the world to see. We can only hope that the leg barer has had the foresight to shave said legs so as not to subject the world to her stubble.

Our pulled together and coordinated outfits could in no way be confused with what we wore on the weekends. We looked like actual adults conducting actual business.

But eventually, the Casual Friday concept was born and people started wearing jeans and polo shirts to work. This was so much fun that inevitably businesses dropped “Friday” from the concept completely. Soon, ties were relegated to the backs of closets only to see the light of day for formal occasions like wedding and funerals. Younger men who never had the need to purchase dress clothes would show up at weddings or funerals wearing the one button-down shirt in their closet along with a tie borrowed from their dads. If they wore a tie at all.

Polo shirts soon gave way to T-shirts in the workplace and then companies had to clarify dress codes to prohibit foul or inappropriate messages on the T-shirts. Sandals were approved for summer wear, but flip flops were not. Lines were blurred and closets contained just clothes instead of categories like work clothes, dress clothes and casual clothes.

And then people had to be told that visible underwear was not acceptable in the work place. Really? People couldn’t understand that their coworkers didn’t care to see what color boxers or bra and thong set they were wearing? What happened to common sense?

Yeah, I’m thinking that Casual Friday was the downfall of the American work force.

And even though I still hold on to old-fashioned notions of dressing up for work, there are those rare occasions (like today) when I’d frankly prefer my pajamas over work clothes. Yet I notice that when I’m wearing something really casual (like today) I tend to be a little sloppier in my work efforts, too. I’m thinking more about scrubbing the tub tomorrow or lounging on the couch reading a book than I am about calling my customer or following up with a vendor.

So now I’m feeling a little ashamed about today’s wardrobe. And if I hadn’t spent my lunch hour writing this blog, I might have considered driving all the way home to change into something a little more business appropriate.

Or…maybe not. I am, after all, pretty darn comfy – even with the mustard-like stain on the front of my shirt. Egads. Could backwards-facing ball caps and droopy pants be in my future? I’m tellin’ ya, it’s the downfall of civilization...

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