• STYLE. COMMUNITY. GREAT CLOTHING.

    Bored of counting likes on social networks? At Styleforum, you’ll find rousing discussions that go beyond strings of emojis.

    Click Here to join Styleforum's thousands of style enthusiasts today!

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

rjc149

Senior Member
Joined
May 8, 2016
Messages
127
Reaction score
110
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.
Backpacks create wear and tear on the shoulder pads of a suit, particularly the shoulder seams, so unless you’re unconcerned with damaging a $700+ investment, carrying a briefcase by hand is really the preferred method of lugging your crap around while wearing a suit jacket.

And while backpacks are fine for the commute, they’re quite juvenile and unprofessional for adult men conducting business in more conservative environments. At least, they are regarded that way where I work.
 

Connemara

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Mar 9, 2006
Messages
39,549
Reaction score
1,816
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.
This is the sweet spot for Styleforum types who would feel too dressed-up in a suit and tie. I like the inherent variety you get with a sportcoat in that it can be paired with different trousers and shirts.

I think there's a good chance ties will start to fade from society over the next 15 years (they already are, I suppose). There must be millions of ties gathering dust in closets across the U.S.

Backpacks create wear and tear on the shoulder pads of a suit, particularly the shoulder seams, so unless you’re unconcerned with damaging a $700+ investment, carrying a briefcase by hand is really the preferred method of lugging your crap around while wearing a suit jacket.

And while backpacks are fine for the commute, they’re quite juvenile and unprofessional for adult men conducting business in more conservative environments. At least, they are regarded that way where I work.
I cringe when I see a grown man lugging a backpack to the office.
 

rjc149

Senior Member
Joined
May 8, 2016
Messages
127
Reaction score
110
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.
I think this is also due to a regional/cultural difference. I agree, that suit and ties are increasingly associated with low-level salesmen -- especially the tie -- but it's an association not yet commonly perceived in downtown Manhattan. A man wearing a suit and tie in FiDi is generally assumed to be of a certain professional station, especially if the suit fits him properly and isn't out of style (3-button, large lapels, black, chalkstripes etc). In places where business establishment hasn't traditionally dictated suit and tie, I imagine they are more associated with salesmen, realtors, retail branch bankers, church pastors etc.

I'm not sure what business culture exists in Beijing, but I know Japanese business dress heavily emulates and adopts Western dress norms (the Japanese word for suit is "sabi-ro" -- Saville Row) which has its roots in the Meiji Restoration. I don't think Chinese business culture is as European-influenced.

The reality of suit-wearing holds true for the majority of the world's people -- they are not the most comfortable or practical, especially in hot or cold weather. They are designed to be comfortable in the London climate, and not really anywhere else.
 

smittycl

Distinguished Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
8,957
Reaction score
12,766
I think there's a good chance ties will start to fade from society over the next 15 years (they already are, I suppose). There must be millions of ties gathering dust in closets across the U.S.
Agreed. I bought three ties in the last two years. Mine are mostly gathering dust in the closet.

I like them and would be hard-pressed to wear a suit without one but can easily part company for most of the work week.
 

JJ Katz

Senior Member
Joined
May 31, 2018
Messages
516
Reaction score
484
Boulud totally misses the point by talking about how his jeans cost more than a suit.
Admittedly crass and tasteless. That said, ab originem formal dress codes were a wealth marker and similarly of dubious taste. Nowadays, of course, they are not.

Dining dress codes have always been more of a function of socioeconomic and even racial exclusivity, not decorum.
That's just nonsense. It isn't as if only rich, white people owned a jacket and tie. Just look at period (as in, up to the 1960s, at least) pictures of people in Harlem (say): they are typically beautifully dressed and would pass dress code standards easily. The socioeconomic exclusion was (and remains) via high prices and, arguably, a certain demeanour by the staff.

.I don't think [dress norms] flow from the top down. I think there's a bit of back and forth now between the different sections of society.
Absolutely. Just think of the low-slung trousers phenomenon.

...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 is something I increasingly object to. Not just being very sloppily dressed but going out of one's way to question why others aren't. It's the worst of both worlds: conformism PLUS slovenliness.

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.
I applaud you, sir.

Some of you want suits to come back so bad.
True. :)
 

rjc149

Senior Member
Joined
May 8, 2016
Messages
127
Reaction score
110
That's just nonsense. It isn't as if only rich, white people owned a jacket and tie. Just look at period (as in, up to the 1960s, at least) pictures of people in Harlem (say): they are typically beautifully dressed and would pass dress code standards easily. The socioeconomic exclusion was (and remains) via high prices and, arguably, a certain demeanour by the staff.
Their beautiful attire would pass our modern dress codes with flying colors, but howabout those of their contemporary blue-blooded white elites?

Yes the high prices is a de facto barrier of entry for those of lesser means -- but maintaining dress codes is also a means of maintaining exclusivity, if even the appearance of it. Social exclusivity, across human society, has been enforced along socio-economic boundaries. Which, in our society, also meant (and still means) along racial boundaries as well.

"Jacket required" is not racist, but is a distant cousin of "no doo rags" seen not so uncommonly today.
 

Genericuser1

Distinguished Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2018
Messages
1,379
Reaction score
6,618
Suits for me, if I can even still fit into mine (thanks COVID 20) are basically for weddings, funerals and when a General comes to the office. Other than that it's a BD shirt and trousers or chinos.

I have noticed an even more relaxing of attire at work since we were doing shift work during COVID. It's come back some but I still see a lot of jeans and bad shoes.
 

BPL Esq

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2013
Messages
299
Reaction score
379
A jacket requirement isn't even remotely exclusionary at a restaurant where dinner for two with wine pairings will run $500+. I frequently see homeless guys wearing sport coats. Any objection to wearing a jacket to somewhere like Le Bernardin is 0% "I can't" and 100% "I don't want to" and/or "I'm too cool for that." Ok. Eat someplace else.
 

R.O. Thornhill

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2008
Messages
555
Reaction score
493
Still plenty of people in suits and tie in London; though going tieless has obviously become more common. Having been for drinks and dinner out a few times over the las weeks (Dukes, Connaught, Wilton's, Franco's, Annabelle's) I can assure you that dressing up for dinner is not dead. Though we are talking about traditional places in Mayfair and St James'

COVID has definitely had an impact on dress codes in the office though - most juniors seem to believe they can wear what they have been wearing working from home. And socks seem to have become optional. Looks terrible in a corporate office

Clearly I am getting old

R-O-T
 

rjc149

Senior Member
Joined
May 8, 2016
Messages
127
Reaction score
110
The jacket requirement is more to maintain the appearance social exclusivity than to serve as an actual entry barrier. It's part of the ambience, and in my opinion, the fun and enjoyment. All human beings inherently crave status and recognition, and membership to an exclusive group fulfills that innate desire. It makes us feel -- special. I can't think of any other reason why high-end dining venues enforce dress codes. To make its patrons feel like this is a special place, this is a special occasion, and they are special people. That's why they're spending the money. It's not just oral administration of calories for sustenance.

I agree, it's inconsiderate and disrespectful to take that special feeling away from people by willfully defying the dress codes. I would go as far as to say that it burns my ass.
 

Phileas Fogg

Distinguished Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
3,520
Reaction score
3,070
Are there any places left that actually require a jacket anymore?

I mean, really? Most will say “smart casual” or some other bullshit. Sure, I get California; a state where residents own one pair of casual flip flops and another, more dressy pair. But I’ve yet to see “jacket required” in Chicago or NYC. I’ve seen jacket recommended.

Let’s face it, in today’s overly sensitive, woke age, no restauranteur wants to be cancelled because he turned away someone for not wearing a jacket, especially if that potential patron was a minority.
 

TomTom

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2012
Messages
150
Reaction score
125
Yes, there is little doubt that general fashion trends have become more casual -- 'casual' meaning more comfortable and practical. Given a purely dichotomous choice, most people will opt for comfort over style.

A large aspect of this is also the climate. As casual dress grows from comfort and practicality, the climate in California has largely shaped the regional culture and its more warm-weather dress codes, both in casual and professional settings. So it's easy for me to believe your statement that the suit plays little role in a typical Californian's wardrobe, even a very wealthy, high-status Californian.

In California, I imagine most of the socioeconomic elite work in industries that never strictly enforced a suit and tie dress code (entertainment and tech). In NYC and Chicago, there are long-standing, time-honored bastions of business establishment that regard the suit and tie not only as a matter of respect and decorum, but tradition. The suit and tie will never completely go away.

It comes down to tradition, and how willing we are to enforce tradition, or merely commemorate it in the interests of inclusiveness. A restaurant that once required men to wear a jacket will soon simply recommend they do so. I agree, that's indicative of a trend toward casual attire that long predates the covid pandemic. 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.
Have to agree with that..I work in the City of London and now that the offices are filling up again the men are still wearing suits and ties, black shoes. Well , when it was 30 degrees last week they wear a suit and no tie.
 

TomTom

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2012
Messages
150
Reaction score
125
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.
Again...yes..I see people in immaculate business dress, nice shoes, expensive well tailored suits and a backpack..All the time!!
 

TomTom

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2012
Messages
150
Reaction score
125
Still plenty of people in suits and tie in London; though going tieless has obviously become more common. Having been for drinks and dinner out a few times over the las weeks (Dukes, Connaught, Wilton's, Franco's, Annabelle's) I can assure you that dressing up for dinner is not dead. Though we are talking about traditional places in Mayfair and St James'

COVID has definitely had an impact on dress codes in the office though - most juniors seem to believe they can wear what they have been wearing working from home. And socks seem to have become optional. Looks terrible in a corporate office

Clearly I am getting old

R-O-T
I have noticed the sockless thing too...have to remind a couple of my guys to wear business appropriate attire . But then again I'm known as a person who never not wears a tie and is considered casual if it wear tailored trouser and a jacket. For full disclosure I'm only 41 and work as an IT manager in the City.
 

ThreadsofApollo

Well-Known Member
Affiliate Vendor
Joined
Dec 20, 2019
Messages
63
Reaction score
40
Again...yes..I see people in immaculate business dress, nice shoes, expensive well tailored suits and a backpack..All the time!!
The backpack trend is quite interesting. I would think it would look odd especially in a corporate setting but I assume it's one of those sleek looking leather bags that might "fit in" in such a setting?
 

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

Featured Sponsor

Favorite Shorts Length

  • Above the knee

  • Knee length

  • Below the knee

  • None of the above

  • Mid-thigh ("short shorts")


Results are only viewable after voting.

Related Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
461,832
Messages
10,020,282
Members
208,462
Latest member
shonbest121
Top