Back To The Dry Cleaners

After months of wearing “business casual” in the office during this never-ending COVID/visual conference/work from home period, I’ve decided to make a change. Since the start of 2022, I’ve been donning a suit or sport coat, button-down shirt, and tie on work days, which means I’m once again using the dry cleaner bag after a long dry spell.

Why am I back to wearing traditional lawyer attire? Well, for one, I’m a cheapskate. I’ve got all of these perfectly good suits, shirts, and ties that have been literally gathering dust during the “everyday business casual” period, and I figure I might as well get some use out of them. Also, I realize that I actually kind of like the feel of a freshly laundered, lightly starched shirt, a well-knotted tie, and suit coat. It’s an outfit I wore on a daily basis for more than 30 years, and it feels good to go back to it. For that same reason, it’s a look that I associate with my profession, and wearing the outfit puts me in the frame of mind to do my job.

So these days when I get home I stash the used shirts in the dry cleaner bag again, we put the bag out on the front step on collection days, and we look for the shirts in the cellophane bag that the dry cleaner hangs from our front door after a visit. And when I select my button-down shirt for the day in the morning, remove it from its dry cleaner bag and paper sheath, and take off the plastic collar guard and the little clip that holds together the cuffs, it’s all part of the return to the old routines. Except that now, what was old feels new again.

Tie Died

Yesterday the Bus-Riding Conservative (who hasn’t been riding the bus much these days since the office has been closed) sent around a picture of himself wearing a mask and a suit and tie.  He was donning his lawyer garb and mask to attend an important meeting, and he looked like a dashing corporate raider or somebody getting ready to rob a high-end country club — after cocktails, of course.

title-image-1But the BRC made a somewhat shocking confession in conjunction with sending his photo.  He admitted that it actually felt good to put on a tie after enduring a long, tieless period.

I’m surprised that the BRC’s astonishing statement didn’t produce thunderbolts from on high or breathless news reports that hell had frozen over, because it is likely the first time in the history of western civilization that a man has said that it felt good to put on a scrap of colored cloth that is specifically designed to cinch down on your windpipe and your sagging neck wattles and serves no functional purpose whatsoever, other than to become stained by splashes of food during power lunches.

The BRC’s mind-boggling confession got me to thinking, and I realized two things.  First, I don’t miss wearing a tie in the slightest, although I will certainly put one back on, as part of the lawyer’s uniform, when things get back to some semblance of normalcy.  And second, this has undoubtedly been the longest I’ve gone without wearing a tie in decades.  This coming week will mark my three-month anniversary in the untied category.  That hasn’t happened since at least law school — which ended, incidentally, during Ronald Reagan’s first term — and maybe since college, back in the Carter Administration.  And even in college, we periodically had parties following a Blue Brothers theme where the costume required attendees to put on a hat, tie, and sunglasses.  We may be going all the way back to high school.

I’ve written before about what parts of the new, coronavirus world will continue, and what parts will end when a vaccine is invented or “herd immunity” is achieved.  Even before COVID-19 struck, there was a strong push against standard business attire — including tie — and in favor of general “business casual” requirements, in which the tie went the way of the Dodo.  It will be interesting to see whether we’ve seen the last gasp of the necktie in the business world, and it turns out to be one of the many victims of the coronavirus.

If it is, there won’t be many male mourners — other than the BRC, of course.

Comfort Contest

Friday is, of course, casual day at the firm.  You are supposed to wear “business casual” (whatever that is these days; the mores seem to change with lightning speed).  Today I got to wondering whether casual Fridays are more advantageous for men or for women.  That is, do men or women get more out of being able to discard the standard professional attire in favor of something more comfortable?

This is not an easy question.  For men, well-knotted ties and shirts that button to the neck are pretty darned uncomfortable, and if you are in a meeting where you have to wear your suit jacket, it adds up to a truly hot, binding ensemble.  Kish tells me, on the other hand, that panty hose are about as uncomfortable as clothing can get.

Upon careful consideration, my conclusion is that casual Fridays are of more benefit to men than women.  Why?  Because even on casual Fridays, women often nevertheless wear what appears to be the most uncomfortable clothing item of all — their shoes.  Many women’s shoes look more like the legendary Iron Maiden than comfortable footwear.  They’ve got straps and buckles and high heels, all of the weight is on the ball of the foot, and often toes are jammed into some “open toe” slot.  If I had to walk around in something like that for a day, my feet would be cramping up and would hurt like blazes.

So, I think men win the comfort contest.  They wear open-necked shirts and get to toss the coat.  Women, on the other hand, bravely continue to endure extreme pedal discomfort in the name of fashion.