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Covid accelerated dress code de-formalization - true or false?

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Stylish Dinosaur
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We were in Seattle on Friday and went out to dinner at a fairly nice place. Now the PNW has always been a tad more casual than other places but this past Friday the patrons were downright sloppy. We didn't really pay that much attention until someone asked us why were were "so dressed up". We were in khaki trousers, a button-up shirt in a summer check, and leather loafers. That ain't what I'd call dressed-up ... but Friday night it sure was. A fellow at the next table was in gym shorts, a wrinkled t-shirt, and flip-flops.
 
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rjc149

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I don't think suits are going anywhere permanently anytime soon. The current phenomenon of the 'tech startup' means suits are taking an intermission in business attire right now. Some hedge funds and private equity firms that aren't so "young" anymore are already going back to suits.

Businessmen still want to appear polished and 'powerful' in their environments. Mark Zuckerberg looks like a deadbeat slob in a hoodie and flip flops, even if it's an ironically pretentious status symbol in its own right.

The only time another patron's attire at a restaurant bothered me was at Brennan's in New Orleans. I called ahead to confirm the business casual dress code. I was politely asked to wear a collared shirt and slacks, which I did. Seated next to us were a group dressed in shorts and t-shirts. I didn't care for the "yeah, I don't give a fuck" message it sent to everyone else. After 3 Sazerac's, I stopped caring though.
 
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Leiker

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I think $30-$75 for a meal is the equivalent of Allen Edmonds for shoes.

I do understand what you're saying about the reaction to the articles. But aren't you the one who's always talking about how our cues for classic menswear dress starts with the upper classes (i.e., people who are eating at Le Bernadin once or twice a month)? I'm surprised you don't think it's relevant as the starting point of a trickle down effect on dress norms.
Agreed; I think the relevance is obvious, perhaps both as a "trickle down" effect and as a reflection of changing norms.
 

dieworkwear

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Agreed; I think the relevance is obvious, perhaps both as a "trickle down" effect and as a reflection of changing norms.
But how can there be a trickle-down effect when none of the affordable restaurants require a coat and tie? Isn't this an example of dress norms trickling up?
 
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bourbonbasted

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After reading the article I have bravely decided that I will still wear a jacket the next time I go to Daniel or Le Bernardin. Please, hold your applause.
 

dieworkwear

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I don't think suits are going anywhere permanently anytime soon. The current phenomenon of the 'tech startup' means suits are taking an intermission in business attire right now. Some hedge funds and private equity firms that aren't so "young" anymore are already going back to suits.

Businessmen still want to appear polished and 'powerful' in their environments. Mark Zuckerberg looks like a deadbeat slob in a hoodie and flip flops, even if it's an ironically pretentious status symbol in its own right.

The only time another patron's attire at a restaurant bothered me was at Brennan's in New Orleans. I called ahead to confirm the business casual dress code. I was politely asked to wear a collared shirt and slacks, which I did. Seated next to us were a group dressed in shorts and t-shirts. I didn't care for the "yeah, I don't give a fuck" message it sent to everyone else. After 3 Sazerac's, I stopped caring though.
Can you think of any industry that gave up on the coat and tie, and then later returned to it as a dress norm? Meaning, not just some people in the industry electing to wear it because they find it fashionable. But companies reinstating it as a dress code.
 

Leiker

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But how can there be a trickle-down effect when none of the affordable restaurants require a coat and tie? Isn't this an example of dress norms trickling up?
But how can there be a trickle-down effect when none of the affordable restaurants require a coat and tie? Isn't this an example of dress norms trickling up?
I see your point, for me the possible effect would not be seen in more affordable restaurants specifically but in other settings where wearing coat and tie has been expected.
 

dieworkwear

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I see your point, for me the possible effect would not be seen in more affordable restaurants specifically but in other settings where wearing coat and tie has been expected.
I see what you mean.

Personally, I think the coat and tie has been dead for a while, and it's just a long slide into irrelevancy. The people who wear it are mostly people who work in very specific service sectors, such as people in restaurants or hotels. It seems to me like the "upper classes" were among the last to ditch it. IMO, the death of the coat and tie is one of the examples of how dress norms have trickled up in the post-war period, rather than flowed from the top down.

I think the coat and tie will live on as traditional garb, and will serve as the same function as other traditional modes of dress (e.g. the áo dài in Vietnam). Some people will wear it for New Years, special celebrations, weddings, funerals, christenings, etc.

There will also probably be oscillations. I assume it will come back as a fashionable garment, but this still means that people will elect to wear it, not have it forced upon them. And that also means that only a small subsection of men in any given situation will wear the full rig.
 
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rjc149

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Can you think of any industry that gave up on the coat and tie, and then later returned to it as a dress norm? Meaning, not just some people in the industry electing to wear it because they find it fashionable. But companies reinstating it as a dress code.
I can think of a few examples where a company formalized its dress code to suit and tie, like Blackstone (became formal after their IPO), or experienced a period of time in which the suit and tie dress code was either relaxed or suspended, then tightened back up. I’m reading a lot of articles titled to the effect of “Has Covid killed the suit and tie? Are sweatpants the new work dress code?”No. It hasn’t. And no. It’s not.

But no, I cannot think of a specific industry that once had a suit and tie dress code, abolished it entirely, then reinstated it again.

I do think neckties are on their way out, but not the suit.
 

bourbonbasted

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Nobilis Animus

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How is $200 for an evening out suddenly considered extravagant?

As a counterpoint: I know far more people who spend at least that much to go out with friends and wouldn't dream of buying $2000 suits.
 

dieworkwear

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I can think of a few examples where a company formalized its dress code to suit and tie, like Blackstone (became formal after their IPO), or experienced a period of time in which the suit and tie dress code was either relaxed or suspended, then tightened back up. I’m reading a lot of articles titled to the effect of “Has Covid killed the suit and tie? Are sweatpants the new work dress code?”No. It hasn’t. And no. It’s not.

But no, I cannot think of a specific industry that once had a suit and tie dress code, abolished it entirely, then reinstated it again.

I do think neckties are on their way out, but not the suit.
Seems to me that as industries give up on the coat and tie, it's hard to move in the other direction. Even if a few companies tighten up dress codes, there's still the general slide towards a more casual way of dressing.

This is not just about the suit, but a 400-year-old history of Western fashion, which has only moved in one direction. There was a time when men in frock coats frowned upon men wearing lounge suits, as they felt people in lounge suits were too casually dressed. The frock coat eventually gave way to the stroller, the stroller to the modern suit, and then all the casualizing details of that attire (e.g. sporting details and sport coats). At each step, dress norms have become more and more casual -- never the reverse.

I don't think the suit will entirely go away. But at least in California, the scope for it is so narrow, it's barely meaningful in most people's lives. People who wear the suit on a semi-regular basis elect to do so because they feel it's a fashionable garment.

To talk about the suit today in terms of dress code is to define the conversation in very narrow terms. People talk about niche industries in which most people don't work (even on this forum), restaurants where most people don't eat (again, even on this forum), and events that only take up a small fraction of one's life (e.g. weddings and funerals).
 

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