Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Scruffy Formal Dress Code

Battered Ballgowns and Torn Tuxedos
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The 'smart casual' dress code is common these days as an alternative to more traditional businesswear. Now, I'm sure that many workers have felt overwhelming gratitude for this liberation from the serpent-like symbol of slavery called the necktie, but, really, is a pastel polo shirt that much better? Many of those 'smart casual' codes, it seems to me, define their terms so bizzarely as to be all but mutually exclusive. No jeans. No combats. No trainers. Nuh-uh. Apparently 'casual' means crisply-ironed slacks in beige, grey or black, with a nice jumper, maybe. Short-sleeved shirt = good. Hawaian shirt = bad. Go figure.

Now I understand that the bosses of this world may be reluctant to let their staff come into work in their _real_ casual clothing. I'm willing to admit that the workplace may not be the right environment for bathrobes and underwear, or for those skatepunk jeans and that Rage Against The Machine hoodie. But perhaps there is another way to let workers exercise their individuality and their belief in personal freedom, whilst maintaining the tedious and strange sartorial requirements of middle management.

To that end, I propose the 'Scruffy Formal' dress code. The only demand made is that workers dress formally; there should be no requirements for neatness or cleanliness, or, for that matter, 'appropriateness'. Indeed, the 'scruffy' aspect of the dress code would mean that a certain amount of disshevelment was _expected_. Female workers may happily wear that moth-eaten ballgown they bought in a charity shop ten years ago and never got the chance to wear. Or that prom dress with the straw still sticking out. Gents may dress in full tuxedos but with bow-ties undone, shirts stained with red wine or port, lipstick on the sprung collar. Tattered, frayed military regalia left over from a bygone age would also be acceptable, as would full cricket-whites (replete with grass-stained groin, of course), as alternatives. Generally speaking, however, the *correct* look would be one forged in a weekend of debauchery and decadence and maintained throughout the working week by a rigorous regime of all-night gambling, and breakfasts of Bloody Marys, directly followed by staggering into work the next morning with a joint hanging precariously from your cigarette holder and a top hat squarely skewed upon your head, with a cheery cry of "Champagne and cocaine, anyone?".

'Dress down' days and 'Smart Casual' dress codes will never truly mean that you're free to wear what you want. And those 'Dress Up for Charity' days are invariably just degrading excuses for getting the poor office junior into a a bunny-suit. So I say a new approach is in order. Think of the bonding around the water cooler ("You had _how_ much to drink?"... "The _whole_ football team. I say."). Think of the empathy that unites all hangover sufferers. Think of the team-building excursions to the casino (Forget the white-water rafting, we're talking White Russian quaffing).

Needless to say, a certain degree of flexibility in terms of working hours may be required before this policy could be properly instituted.

Guy Fox, Nov 19 2001

(?) The Strokes at NME.com http://www.nme.com/...4,art197746,00.html
Top tie-wearers in pop. [pottedstu, Nov 19 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

snakeskin jacket http://www.youtube....watch?v=JEz-cwJxtu8
//individuality and their belief in personal freedom// [jaksplat, Jan 18 2009]

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       Man, I wish this was baked. Croissant even just for the title!
snarfyguy, Nov 19 2001
  

       if your idea is mainly for people to come in wearing postcoitally-rumpled ballgowns and brandy-fuelled-fight-torn tuxedos, then why not just lay on a posh ball each week, and make sure everyone stays so late that they have to do an allnighter and go straight to work the next day, dishevelled? That'll sort the men from the boys. And the diabetics. And the manic depressives. Hm, perhaps not such a great concept after all. I'll still croissant it though, having done it many a time at university. The Walk Of Shame, it's sometimes called.
lewisgirl, Nov 19 2001
  

       I must admit I like the idea of wearing a fur fabric Bunny suit, like the one Brude Willis wears in West, to work. It would give me a good excuse to carry around a good supply of chocolate and carrots.   

       Some employers have reacted to uncertainty over informal dress codes by having people sell acceptable and fashionable clothes in their building. This means that employees can look both individual and smart.
Aristotle, Nov 19 2001
  

       [Navy blue jeans, t-shirt, grey fleecy top today]
hippo, Nov 19 2001
  

       It wouldn't be so bad wearing a tie if you were allowed to open the top one or two shirt buttons and have the actual tie knot hanging 6 inches below your neck. Then place a near-empty bottle of Scotch in your jacket pocket and apply your 1980s-surplus Designer Stubble In A Can.   

       Or go for the Strokes look of thrift-shop jacket, badly-ironed white shirt, dodgy tie and black jeans. Just not having to iron your shirt would be cool.   

       I work in an office where the dress code is more or less smart-casual, but most of us wear formal shirts and ties because the alternative's just embarrassing. We do have a proper t-shirt and jeans dress-down-Friday also, so it's good to create a differential to make the Friday seem more special.
pottedstu, Nov 19 2001
  

       Oooh! This is one of my own personal favourite rants. Dress codes? What's that all about then? I can see that an employer may want to project a certain image to their customers and in a front-office (i.e.face to face with clients/customers) a uniform dress code may be appropriate but that's as far as it goes for me. To make everyone else in the company dress the same is just another form of fascism as far as I'm concerned. Dress-down days? Just an attempt by company execs to prove what fun & whacky guys they are. No more convincing than the bloke who wears his musical tie at Christmas just to prove what a rebel he is. (At this point I'll assume that everyone's lost interest & gone off to make a cup of coffee but I've got lots more spleen to vent on this particular topic, you can be sure).

Strangely enough Guy, those bastions of capitalist orthodoxy, the London money market dealers, have baked this in a small way (call it a crouton!). Unlike everyone else who works for a living, they have their end of the week boozing sessions on Thursday nights rather than Friday. Apparently it's traditional to have your hangover on the company's time. Sounds good to me!
DrBob, Nov 19 2001
  

       The coolest example of scruffy formal I've heard is about a goth girl who one year went to the mud-sodden Glastonbury music festival wearing an oh-so-decadent-glamorous second-hand wedding dress, with full length layered white lacy skirt to drag through the oceans of soil-soup. A wedding dress covered in mud up to the hips would be the ultimate female scruffy-formal garb.   

       And those without ready supplies of muddiness could wear their outfit in the shower before going to work. There's nothing like that "my car broke down 10 miles away, and I had to walk here in the pouring rain without even a jacket" effect to turn smartness into dishevelled. Maybe change a spare tyre or oil filter before work too.   

       You could also include an ornamental pond or fountain outside each workplace, and force the women (in their ball-gowns) to have a cat-fight in it before going to their desks. Perhaps you could spread spurious gossip, or get some of that stuff they had in Sabrina The Teenage Witch that turns your life into Days Of Our Lives.
pottedstu, Nov 19 2001
  

       That's the spirit, pottedstu (40% proof spirit in yer jacket pocket, I mean).   

       And, DrBob, believe me, when I was typing up that paragraph on <shudder> dress-down days, it was hard reining in my own spleen (quite literally, that is... most of my vital organs are continuously attempting escape from the horrors I inflict on them. My liver's been missing since last Tuesday, indeed.)   

       lg: Posh ball every week? Every night, I say. Student debauchery should just be a dry-run for the real thing.   

       Aristo: Rabbit suits could be fun, I'm sure, but... {{{{{{shimmery scooby doo moment}}}}}} I had to change flights at Brussels airport this year around Easter, and as I was sitting having a little ciggie whilst waiting for my connecting flight, I turned around to see this poor lassie in a full-body bunny costume, carrying a wee basket of Belgian chocolates. God knows how hot it was in the airport. She walks over to where I'm sitting, sits down beside me, yanks off her 'head' with a look known to down-trodden service sector workers the world over, pulls out a pack of Marlboro and sparks up. Apart from the fact that it was like something out of a Jim Jarmusch movie, I felt so much empathy for her. She was, (it has to be said) not a happy bunny (sorry).
Guy Fox, Nov 19 2001
  

       Controlled tests show that people uniformly judge men in suit and tie as more intelligent, capable, and trustworthy than men in casual dress. This prejudice is even shared by those who protest the idea that clothes affect how an individual is judged. Most upper managers know this. So watch out for companies where upper managers continue to wear the suits and ties even on "casual Fridays," citing something like "oh, I have to meet with a client." Even the casual Friday, which seems to be a concession to "employee empowerment" could be used to consolidate power among the upper echelons.
beauxeault, Nov 19 2001
  

       I once went for an interview as a programmer with a high-tech communications company where every member of staff was wearing a polo shirt bearing the logo either of the company itself or of their numerous customers or suppliers. They might as well have had name badges with "I'm Tony, happy to help you" along the top. Hey, let's all pretend we work in PC World, that's much cooler than fascist ties.   

       Also ban shirts with button-down collars, please.
pottedstu, Nov 19 2001
  

       waugs: I always thought the Thompson Twins did have rather natty attire, although the bowler-hatted gent look rather belongs to Patrick McNee as John Steed, to my mind... and the moustaches were really quite monstrous, I have to say. So was there a distinction between the Thompson Twins in early Tintin books as opposed to late Tintin books <he said, smiling disingenuously>?   

       Prom dress = formal
Splattered with pigs blood = pretty much as scruffy as you can get without a mudfight.
I'd certainly say it fits the criteria, blissmiss. Perhaps disturbingly so.
Guy Fox, Nov 19 2001
  

       The computer games industry has a reverse snobbery regarding dress codes. Anyone who looks smart is regarded with suspicion, and anybody coming to a job interview (part of which is invariably held in the pub) wearing a tie, would automatically fail to gain employment.

"Controlled tests show that people uniformly judge men in suit and tie as more intelligent, capable, and trustworthy than men in casual dress.", says [beauxeault]. I guess they must have found some controlled people to take part in these controlled tests. Never trust a suit, is a traditional axiom throughout the computer industry.
Lemon, Nov 19 2001
  

       Quite right - the billionaire founder and CEO of my Silicon Valley employer would a polo shirt and jeans. The company lawyers, on the other hand, would wear suits.
hippo, Nov 19 2001
  

       There it was. Adults! Always the same: all for lust and murder. › Tintin in the new world. 1993 Riverhead.   

       I think Blair epitomizes scruffy and holds the sizing quite well, too.
reensure, Nov 19 2001
  

       "symphony musicans' cast-offs" - now there's a phrase not heard every day.
FlyingToaster, Jan 18 2009
  


 

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