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

rjc149

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Aren't those East Coast holdouts also giving up on the coat and tie?

I don't know if I can reveal people's names, as maybe they want to be anonymous. But we know of at least one, Foo, who has said that he no longer wears a coat and tie to work. I know of two other members on this board who work in finance in NYC. Both tell me that they've also given upon the coat (not even the coat and tie, but no longer wear a tailored jacket). They say it looks out of place at work.

One of them wears his Rubi jackets just on the train, and then slips into a Patagonia vest when he's actually in the office.
I work in a traditionally formal financial services industry in NYC. On my day of hire, my manager explicitly told me I was to wear a suit and tie at all times.

My manager hasn't been seen wearing a necktie in well over a year. Now, in the summer, I leave the jacket and tie at home. Riding the subway in July is simply unbearable with a suit and carrying the jacket folded over my arm, like in the old days, is just a pain in the ass.

I also got sauce from a chicken parm hero on a Canali tie. That was it for ties, unless I'm meeting a client.
 

Nobilis Animus

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We should probably draw a distinction between what's required at some awful office job, what's expected in broader society, and what's normal in circles which actually drive trends.
 

Nobilis Animus

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sort of nit picking but CAD =/= USD
Sure, but $200 CAD is really not uncommon at a good restaurant, and it usually goes higher with the cost of drinks. Even a dive bar will be something like $22 for a double scotch (barely enough of a drink), and the food will be awful.
 

dieworkwear

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But a white-shoe law firm in NYC prides itself on its tradition and being the opposite of inclusive -- those guys will always be wearing suits.
I work in a traditionally formal financial services industry in NYC.

Now, in the summer, I leave the jacket and tie at home. Riding the subway in July is simply unbearable with a suit and carrying the jacket folded over my arm, like in the old days, is just a pain in the ass.
Doesn't this second quote suggest that the coat, in fact, is slowly going away even in these holdouts? If you can leave your jacket at home, then it's presumably not required.
 

rjc149

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Doesn't this second quote suggest that the coat, in fact, is slowly going away even in these holdouts? If you can leave your jacket at home, then it's presumably not required.
For now, in my place of work, no, it's not. I'm not sure the wearing of a jacket while commuting can really be tracked or enforced, unless there's a checkpoint at the door. Typically, the jacket is removed immediately upon arrival at one's desk and is not worn around the office. In other words, my manager is none the wiser (nor the more concerned, clearly) if I choose to leave the jacket at home and don't have any meetings that day.

Now, if he were to accompany me on a client meeting outside of the office on a cooler day, there would be some stern words if I weren't wearing a jacket and tie to that meeting, or if my shoes weren't shined.

So I think in my particular example, the age of Zoom and Webex has precluded the requirement for shiny shoes. I predict a shift back, at least, somewhat.

I can't speak for traditionally ultra-conservative work settings, like a Wall Street M&A law firm. Since I don't work in that industry, I can't say. There has a been a general relaxation of business dress -- however, where ever that slack is pandemic-related, I believe it will get tightened up again.
 

pasadena man

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When has Western fashion swung towards more formal modes of dress? Meaning, broadly in society, not just as a niche fashion movement.
I understand, and would be happy to stipulate, the long-term secular, trend towards more casual wear. There are, from some perspectives, significant counter trends over this several hundred-year period.

Two of the biggest, and interrelated, trends are industrialization and urbanization. As Western Europe and the US industrialized it required recruiting a massive industrial workforce from the country to the cities. In the US this resulted in many millions of workers moving from the farm to the office and factory, and donning a suit and tie as a uniform of industrial and urban identity.

This has happened at different times and speeds in different societies. Thus, Japan has had a highly urbanized workforce for several generations who moved to CM as they moved to the city (One of the many reasons I like East Asian movies. To my eye, there is often a higher percentage of men better dressed in those movies than I see in various parts of the US (YMMV).

The number of workers in China who are wearing a suit, or collared shirt and tie, has possibly increased by an order of magnitude versus 1980, due to the economic reforms and growth.

It is my understanding that the Chinese government hopes to urbanize another 200 million or more Chinese over the next 20 years. I am not conversant with the CM facts on the ground today in China, but I would wager that a higher percentage of those urbanized farmers will be wearing CM business garb 20 years from now than they are now, out in the country.
 

FlyingMonkey

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It's already changing in Japan - because of climate change. To reduce the massive amount of wasteful air conditioning use in offices, 'coolbiz' policies and incentives have been introduced to encourage people to ditch jackets and ties in the summer and it's also meant a specific response from the fashion industry in producing business wear in more cooling fabrics. I was highly sceptical of all this at first, but it's undoubtedly changed things, and as a side effect made the Japanese workplace a little less formal.
 

dieworkwear

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I understand, and would be happy to stipulate, the long-term secular, trend towards more casual wear. There are, from some perspectives, significant counter trends over this several hundred-year period.

Two of the biggest, and interrelated, trends are industrialization and urbanization. As Western Europe and the US industrialized it required recruiting a massive industrial workforce from the country to the cities. In the US this resulted in many millions of workers moving from the farm to the office and factory, and donning a suit and tie as a uniform of industrial and urban identity.

This has happened at different times and speeds in different societies. Thus, Japan has had a highly urbanized workforce for several generations who moved to CM as they moved to the city (One of the many reasons I like East Asian movies. To my eye, there is often a higher percentage of men better dressed in those movies than I see in various parts of the US (YMMV).

The number of workers in China who are wearing a suit, or collared shirt and tie, has possibly increased by an order of magnitude versus 1980, due to the economic reforms and growth.

It is my understanding that the Chinese government hopes to urbanize another 200 million or more Chinese over the next 20 years. I am not conversant with the CM facts on the ground today in China, but I would wager that a higher percentage of those urbanized farmers will be wearing CM business garb 20 years from now than they are now, out in the country.
True, but aren't they just adopting the modes of fashion in the city?

It's hard to discuss clothing like this because for a long time, people dressed according to their station in life. That said, there are records of tailors in the 19th century lamenting how urban workers dressed to church. They complained that such people wore lounge suits, which were considered working clothes at the time.

I recently spoke to a friend who runs a high-end tailoring shop in Beijing. His description of dress norms to me sounded even more casual than those in San Francisco. He said that only insurance salesmen wear suits to work. If people have money, they tend to work at a job where they can dress according to their pleasure, although there's a soft norm for "dressing down." People wear suits if they feel it fits their mood, personality, etc (not that different from how many people on this forum wear suits). He also noted that, when he went to his daughter's recital, the dress code was "formal," but that just meant that people didn't show up in shorts and flip flops. They wore jeans and t-shirts. One person wore a dress shirt. He wore a sport coat.

For this reason, he says he rarely sells navy or grey suits, as people don't buy tailored clothing to conform to a dress code at work. They buy and wear suits because they see them as fashionable garments, but they may also wear something totally casual the next day. So they're more likely to buy more "expressive" fabrics or vintage fabrics.

The couple of times I've visited Beijing, I rarely saw anyone in suits. It's all very casual clothing.
 
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smittycl

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The Federal government here in DC remains stuffy and I’m guessing suits will be the order-of-the-day again come Fall (unless the Delta variant surges). Law enforcement, particulary the agents, love their suits. People at the top of their very hierarchical agencies also seem to like dressing well. Need to look the part as they interact with their peers in other agencies or with the Hill.

It is getting hotter here, though. I could support going tieless in a sport coat for most days. I shifted to buying only half-lined stuff a while back.
 

Nobilis Animus

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Take note, people: This is why looking at office dress codes is not a good proxy for determining the larger tendencies of fashion (as if that needed to be said aloud).

For that matter, using the usual dress of 'people' in general as a gauge of how formally to dress or not is silly to the point of tediousness, and no one should pay those opinions any mind - at least not if they wish to bolster their measuring rod with anecdotal evidence. As far as trends in a broader sense, those have never been driven by general tendencies. Who on earth wants to imitate Joe Schmoe, or gives a flying narcissistic philosopher how blue is his suit?
 
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pomor

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On another note, the ubiquitous backpack is now worn by practically all strata of society: whether you're a mom pushing a stroller, a young man with big headphones, an older lady with hiking sticks, a businessman rushing off the subway, a homeless begging on the street corner, a kid getting on the bus - even a lawyer in a courtroom (!) - I think of the backpack as the one thing that has democratized us all in the past 30-40 years. The backpack is no longer seen as strictly belonging on a college campus or hiking equipment but THE mode of carry for practically all situations. Comfort over style has clearly won here.


Covid has stranded most of us in our respective places, but when I used to travel the only places I saw more briefcases were Tokyo and downtown Stockholm. La Defense in Paris, Manhattan and the City of London have all succumbed to the backpack.
 

Phileas Fogg

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I think of the backpack as the one thing that has democratized us all in the past 30-40 years. The backpack is no longer seen as strictly belonging on a college campus or hiking equipment but THE mode of carry for practically all situations. Comfort over style has clearly won here.
like everything else though, but appears as a symbol of the democratization of society soon morphs itself into another symbol of class and wealth; “whose backpack are you wearing?”

I’m not a parent but a woman I know who lives in Lincoln Park was telling that when the moms are out during the day with their strollers, the stroller itself became a status symbol. Brand, cost, etc are things known to these moms. I had no idea.

We will always find a way to separate ourselves from the pack and to show our status. Sometimes overt and sometimes subtle, but we will find a way.
 

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