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Variance in the acceptabilty of business dress by region.

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by tbrock, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. tbrock

    tbrock Well-Known Member

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    Upon receiving my first pair of double monk shoes (in brown suede) I got to thinking about the regional differences in what is acceptable to wear to work in a formal business environment. I work in banking in the UK and initially I thought I may be able to pull of double monks but now I'm not so sure they're appropriate (rather than just being contrary to my personal style). I just don't think I've ever seen anyone wearing such a shoe in my industry and region.

    Can you gentlemen think of other examples of things that aren't appropriate in your region (rather than environment)?

    I can certainly think of other regional differences. For instance, it is perfectly acceptable for any male member of staff in the UK to wear a French cuff shirt, no matter how junior. I have heard that this would be seen as dandyish in the US. But it is a standard shirt option here, whether at a high street shop or Turnbull and Asser. I also believe stripes are more appropriate for business here than elsewhere. Generally speaking it would also not be appropriate to wear a button down collar here in a formal environment. Whereas the president could do it and all would be fine.

    Black suits are of course another example. De rigeur in Asia but for funeral directors in the west.

    I would be interested to hear of other variations depending on where you live.
     
  2. 12345Michael54321

    12345Michael54321 Senior member

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    Yes, norms of dress can differ between regions, professions, ages, ethnicity, socio-economic class, etc.

    To give just one example, there are many places in the southern United States, where it would be entirely acceptable and unremarkable for a lawyer to show up in court wearing a seersucker suit. Yet in many places in the northern United States, showing up in seersucker would be a mistake which would haunt the poor fellow for years to come. Or worse.

    Just to minimize the variables, assume the same lawyer in both instances, with the firms at which he's employed being of the same size and reputation, handling the same case, at the same time of year, etc. I'm not "stacking the deck" by contrasting a small town lawyer in the south who's representing a client caught running a Stop sign, with a Manhattan lawyer seeing to a $130 million commercial dispute.
     
  3. tbrock

    tbrock Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it is the difference between regions and formal business attire that I am specifically interested in. It is more subtle than profession but like you say with your example, can be just as stark.

    I imagine that it is also fine to wear cowboy boots with a suit in parts of Texas. You can even tell whether you're in the US, UK or Italy by shirt collars a lot of the time (unless in close proximity to forumites here, who choose the best of all).
     
  4. 12345Michael54321

    12345Michael54321 Senior member

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    As I'm not a Texan, I'm not really qualified to say what is and isn't acceptable there. But Texans has long taken some pride in doing various things the Texas way. :)

    Right. As you previously mentioned, button down collars are far more commonly encountered among suit-wearing American businessmen, than among their European counterparts.

    Overall though, I'd suggest that regional difference in businesswear norms have diminished over the past couple of generations. They haven't quite vanished, but between increased mobility, national/international television networks, national menswear chains, etc., regional business dress is a less distinctive thing than used to be the case.

    Much as distinctive regional accents in the United States are less commonly encountered in business than they used to be. And regional cuisines and food preferences are in many ways less prevalent than they once were.

    I can see both the good side, and the bad, of this homogenization of regional character. In any case, it's not likely to reverse itself.
     
  5. Balfour

    Balfour Senior member

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    Brown shoes with suits for businesswear would still raise eyebrowns in the traditional professions / City in the UK.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016

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