Intrepid

Super Member
When you look at the stands in a professional baseball game in the 30s, all spectators wore a suit and tie. Now, most men in all of life's endeavors don't look like they own a suit or tie. It was referred to here for awhile as the "slobfication" of America. Now, it is just the commonly accepted way of life for men, in every walk of life.

Think about it. Almost all of us spend, or have spent a career selling something. Regardless of whether it is a product, or an idea. We are all trying to gain acceptance of an audience to something that we want them to buy, or to follow our leadership in a certain direction.

It could be argued that the present environment has given us a way to obtain a competitive advantage in many instances, where we show up in a tie and jacket. It often shows self confidence, and respect for those that we are negotiating with.

In the military, a part of officer training involves establishing "command presence". That means establishing yourself in a position where troops respect your guidance. A part of this involves the proper wearing of the uniform.

See if our present sartorial culture doesn't give us an immediate advantage just by showing up in a jacket and tie.
 

fishertw

Advanced Member
I showed up in a jacket and tie or suit for 35 years at the university where I worked. In that time, I rose from basically an accounting clerk to Executive Director of Educational Outreach. I continue to attribute much of that success to 1) showing up ready for work each day and 2) dressing for the job I wanted rather than the job I had. Over that time period, university sartorial standards did slip, but establishing a presence of serious capability through both of these two things helped immensely. Then again, it didn't hurt that I hired a good many people who were smarter than me and made me look good.
Just my $.02
Tom
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
I think the answer, unfortunately, is a mixed one.

Having been on Wall St since the '80s, I thought dressing in a suit and tie as the norm shifted to being more casual was helpful through the early '00s. It did for you the good things Intrepid notes.

But as the '00s moved on and biz-casual and all casual-dress became the norm, you were being judge as stodgy and "old" showing up in a suit and tie in many situations. I had some companies I visited - money management and investment banking firms - ask me not to wear a suit as they said they were trying to create a "younger" vibe to compete with tech for talent and make their younger (in their 20s and 30s) clients more "comfortable."

By 2010, the CEOs and top execs at many of these firms were showing up at some events without ties, in sport coats or even in jeans. You did not want to be in a suit and tie at those events.

Now I'm agnostic: tell me the dress code and I'll try to be a nice version of that code.
 

FiscalDean

Super Member
I really think it depends on each individual and their particular situation. I've been semi - retired for 5+ years. Prior to retiring, I worked in finance / accounting in a variety of settings. As a retiree, I work as a Master Tax Advisor and Enrolled Agent. Most of my clients are more mature and not concerned with their professional's attire. My employer's dress code is fairly flexible, although they encourage more professional attire. I prefer wearing a suit during the week and a sport coat with nice dress slacks on weekends. I believe my clients appreciate my professional attire. My co-workers are generally younger than me and don't give me any crap about how I dress. Actually, I've noticed a trend among the younger professionals to up their game (attire wise) over the past couple of year.
 

fishertw

Advanced Member
I really think it depends on each individual and their particular situation. I've been semi - retired for 5+ years. Prior to retiring, I worked in finance / accounting in a variety of settings. As a retiree, I work as a Master Tax Advisor and Enrolled Agent. Most of my clients are more mature and not concerned with their professional's attire. My employer's dress code is fairly flexible, although they encourage more professional attire. I prefer wearing a suit during the week and a sport coat with nice dress slacks on weekends. I believe my clients appreciate my professional attire. My co-workers are generally younger than me and don't give me any crap about how I dress. Actually, I've noticed a trend among the younger professionals to up their game (attire wise) over the past couple of year.
And remember-- This is the Trad Style section in Ask Andy. We're just a bumch of Old Fogeys anyway and happily so!
 

Dhaller

Advanced Member
Everyone (I hope) will agree that showing up for a hike, or to dig a well, in a suit wouldn't carry any benefit. It would be, frankly, wrong.

There's a difference between dressing *well* and dressing *up*. Dressing well means dressing *within* the context of the occasion, but making it count. A little extra, some flair, call it what you will, but you're dressing for the occasion while still making a statement.

It IS possible for a suit to be *wrong* for a certain kind of workplace.

But back to a hike, or digging a well: you can still do these with *style*, even if you're not wearing a suit. You can be a *well dressed* hiker (I try to be, as a frequent hiker!)

This is a conversation, I'm sure, men have had since ancient times. The modern suit (itself on the way out as "too dressy") was the "hoodie and jeans" of the morning dress generation; I'm sure plenty of gentleman balked at the "slovenlization" of the office place when young (of course) men started showing up in "lounge" suits.

In a hundred years, AAAC posters will be debating whether silver or gold lamé jumpsuits are "the more Trad". And so it goes.

DH
 

FiscalDean

Super Member
And remember-- This is the Trad Style section in Ask Andy. We're just a bumch of Old Fogeys anyway and happily so!

One of the great things about being an old fogey and not having to work unless you want to is that the only person you have to make happy is yourself.

In today's work world there may not be quite the same emphasis on getting ahead or moving up the corporate ladder. If there are fewer people interested in advancement there would be less need to gain a competitive advantage. I can't help but wonder if the lack of competition may have contributed to the changes in workplace attire. IMHO, the argument that more casual attire is more comfortable doesn't ring true to me (at least for men). If a suit fit's properly it shouldn't be uncomfortable.

Of course, this is just an old fogey who may not have all his faculties rambling.
 

TKI67

Super Member
One of the great things about being an old fogey and not having to work unless you want to is that the only person you have to make happy is yourself.

In today's work world there may not be quite the same emphasis on getting ahead or moving up the corporate ladder. If there are fewer people interested in advancement there would be less need to gain a competitive advantage. I can't help but wonder if the lack of competition may have contributed to the changes in workplace attire. IMHO, the argument that more casual attire is more comfortable doesn't ring true to me (at least for men). If a suit fit's properly it shouldn't be uncomfortable.

Of course, this is just an old fogey who may not have all his faculties rambling.
"If a suit fits properly it should't be uncomfortable." In that sentence lie many truths including, in my opinion. why a certain store had to seek bankruptcy protection and why the next generation ought to consider Trad clothing. This truth goes beyond suits and encompasses khakis, OCBDs, and LHSs.
 

fishertw

Advanced Member
At the end of each season, I try on the two BB 1818 Madison suits that I have remaining and a brown POW that I got last year, just to make sure they still fit in case of any weddings or funerals over the next while. I also have a ritual changing of the seasons of sport coats from summer to fall/winter. At this time, I've not needed to wear any of this since mid January, but it still is an old fogey, nearly ten years into retirement, ritual that I subscribe to, just to make sure they are still comfortable and fit well.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
The modern suit (itself on the way out as "too dressy") was the "hoodie and jeans" of the morning dress generation; I'm sure plenty of gentleman balked at the "slovenlization" of the office place when young (of course) men started showing up in "lounge" suits.

Bull’s eye, Dhaller. You inadvertently wrote a summary of the following article from the June 2, 1912 edition of the New York Times:

“LONDON MEN SEEK COMFORT IN DRESS

“Abandon the Frock Coat and Top Hat for a Lounge Suit and “Straw Headgear

“SOFT SHIRTS AND COLLARS

“Continued spells of warm weather are at last making the Londoner discard the uncomfortable garb which he has been accustomed to wear in town for apparel more suited to the climatic conditions. We are seeing the passing of the tailcoat and top hat.

“Possibly the tailors’ strike is having something to do with the change, for last year’s lounge suits are more easily pressed into service than new and more dressy habiliments. In smaller details, such as collars, there has lately been a marked development.

“The new soft polo collar is a final step in the reaction against the stiffness of the mid-Victorian age. It is made of linen or silk with two long points flapping out from a safety pin that holds them together. This collar has been seen at 11 in the morning in Bond Street under the red and blue hat ribbon of the Guards’ Brigade.

“The evolution of this collar is a register of the growth of a tendency noticeable in every part of men’s dress. Ten years ago the single stiff stand-up collar was absolutely indispensable to self-respect in town. The double collar was the first concession made to comfort. It was gradually reduced in height to the narrow one-inch golf collar, which may be colored. The soft double collar was the next step. The polo collar, which has now succeeded it, may in turn be succeeded by the muffler as the neck-dress of the well-dressed man.

“Soft shirts, too, have ousted the old starched linen. The top hat has become almost sacramental. It is reserved for weddings, funerals, and Sunday services. The frock coat is now mainly remembered as Victorian in the modern cutting rooms of Savile Row.

“In fact, the well-dressed young man of today, as he walks across the Green Park, jacketed, soft-shirted, limp-collared, straw-hatted, and brown-shoed, is a figure of such ease as his high-stocked, frock-coated, corseted grandfather would have termed disgraceful slovenliness.”
 

Dhaller

Advanced Member
Bull’s eye, Dhaller. You inadvertently wrote a summary of the following article from the June 2, 1912 edition of the New York Times:

“LONDON MEN SEEK COMFORT IN DRESS...(interesting details)...“In fact, the well-dressed young man of today, as he walks across the Green Park, jacketed, soft-shirted, limp-collared, straw-hatted, and brown-shoed, is a figure of such ease as his high-stocked, frock-coated, corseted grandfather would have termed disgraceful slovenliness.”
Interesting! Hot weather and a tailor's strike. Funny the long-term impact things have; the stuff of Freakonomics.

DH
 

TKI67

Super Member
Over the span of my career the workplace changed so radically. Both at the Fed and at a large bank, the rank and file were outwardly aligned with executive management, and the cues for dressing were unambiguous. (I wish I still had a copy of our dress "guide," roughly fifty pages with an embossed cover). Many years later I had moved to Austin and somehow ended up running several state agencies. I was exceedingly flexible on dress codes, basically requiring that clothing be clean and not offensive by way of immodesty or inappropriate symbols. I observed among the employees that they had a core standard and did not support or cooperate with outliers. I always kept it to myself but thought too many members of upper management dressed as if they were in middle school. For the lower echelon employees it seemed only right not to make them spend disproportionate amounts of their very limited funds dressing up. They were very good and hard working folks trying to make ends meet as they raised families, cared for elderly parents, and contributed generously to the community.
 

richard warren

Senior Member
An old guy wearing a suit is more likely to look old and stodgy than a young guy wearing a suit.

We live every in a society whose rulers are at war with most of the rest of the country. Closer to the time of the sans culottes than the time of the transition from frock coat to lounge suit. The equivalent of the Mao jacket may await us all.

From their descriptions of their work histories, many here who commented above seems to have done their part in bringing it about.
 

drpeter

Senior Member
Over the span of my career the workplace changed so radically. Both at the Fed and at a large bank, the rank and file were outwardly aligned with executive management, and the cues for dressing were unambiguous. (I wish I still had a copy of our dress "guide," roughly fifty pages with an embossed cover). Many years later I had moved to Austin and somehow ended up running several state agencies. I was exceedingly flexible on dress codes, basically requiring that clothing be clean and not offensive by way of immodesty or inappropriate symbols. I observed among the employees that they had a core standard and did not support or cooperate with outliers. I always kept it to myself but thought too many members of upper management dressed as if they were in middle school. For the lower echelon employees it seemed only right not to make them spend disproportionate amounts of their very limited funds dressing up. They were very good and hard working folks trying to make ends meet as they raised families, cared for elderly parents, and contributed generously to the community.
A dress guide that was fifty pages long? That's amazing! What could the company have found to say in such detail about dressing for work? I can understand the military having details about uniforms that could be extensive, but 50 pages for civilian dress seems rather excessive! I would love to be able to see that guide, LOL.
 

drpeter

Senior Member
An old guy wearing a suit is more likely to look old and stodgy than a young guy wearing a suit.

We live every in a society whose rulers are at war with most of the rest of the country. Closer to the time of the sans culottes than the time of the transition from frock coat to lounge suit. The equivalent of the Mao jacket may await us all.

From their descriptions of their work histories, many here who commented above seems to have done their part in bringing it about.
I agree that in our society, the ruling class is at war with the rest of the country. I don't think the future holds much in the way of a good outcome. More like unrelenting strife.
 
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TKI67

Super Member
A dress guide that was fifty pages long? That's amazing! What could the company have found to say in such detail about dressing for work? I can understand the military having details about uniforms that could be extensive, but 50 pages for civilian dress seems rather excessive! I would love to be able to see that guide, LOL.
Maybe it wasn't a full fifty pages, but it was quite thick. It went into all manner of detail on professional dress for both men and women. It covered such details as how to look at the seams, pleats, cuffs, and fabrics when selecting dress shirts and suits; matching shoes and belts, acceptable leathers, colors, and shoe styles; selecting (and rejecting) suits; all manner of pronouncements on ties (acceptable and unacceptable colors, maximum number of colors in striped ties, acceptable and unacceptable patterns; grooming; watches and rings; and lots more.

It covered recommended brands of everything. In addition to Brooks Brothers and Norton Ditto, TCB sent a lot of business to Church's shoes.

The typical male Texas Commerce Banker was probably wearing a medium to dark grey solid color sack suit, a starched white broadcloth shirt with a barrel cuff or a white OCBD, polished but not overly polished black cap toes with a soft calf black belt (probably the one from Brooks with the leather covered buckle), navy blue Merino OTC socks, and either a deep red foulard with a neat pattern or a repp stripe with deep red, navy, and a thin yellow stripe. He wore a stainless and gold but not over the top Rolex and his gold wedding band but left his UT class ring at home in case he had to call on an Aggie. He always had a gold Cross pen. His hair was cut without being too long or freakishly short, had no long sideburns, and had no facial hair. The guys in International, for some reason, could have mustaches. Suspenders, anything "no iron," plaids (even tasteful grey POW), bit or penny loafers, gunboats (except for the old guys in Energy), and decorative rings were frowned upon.

As the GC/Secretary I was a bit of an outlier. I often wore blue OCBDs, grey POW suits, cordovan BB tassels with dark brown belts, a non-Rolex watch with a leather strap, and a signet ring with initials. I recall that by the mid-1980s the code was evolving as the CEO was wearing a lot of Hermes ties.
 

FiscalDean

Super Member
An old guy wearing a suit is more likely to look old and stodgy than a young guy wearing a suit.

As opposed to an old guy trying to look young? I'd rather look my age rather than look like an old guy who can't accept the fact he's matured, i.e. skinny anything and while we're at it grow the hair long and comb it over that bald spot.
 
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