“Clothes make the man. Naked men have little or no influence on society.” — Mark Twain
Here in Silicon Valley, I see a lot of casual dress. The definition of casual dress has morphed considerably since the 90s, when “business casual” and “casual Friday” became common practices. You may picture the standard jeans-and-a-polo-shirt outfit as “casual dress.” Well, out here, it’s not quite that crisp.
Some of the outfits I’ve seen include shorts, sandals, halter tops, and maxi dresses. These aren’t offensive by any means (I suppose pairing socks with sandals is offensive to some), but they don’t seem appropriate for an office. I’m sure I sound old-fashioned, but I think there’s something to be said for taking pride in one’s appearance and looking one’s best. The definition of looking one’s best, of course, is subject to the evolving standards of modern society.
When I moved to California, one of the first things I noticed was the number of tattooed people. It seems everyone here is tattooed. It’s not just an ankle flower or shoulder butterfly carefully hidden by long sleeves or pants. People are covered in ink. Consequently, employers don’t seem to use tattoos as a bar against hiring. I’ve worked with tattooed people across various departments. It’s a common expectation as I meet new colleagues. For many, tattoos represent cultural pride, so they shouldn’t be held against people. The abundance of tattoos also eliminates the need for labeling them as distractions, as it seems the more employees are tattooed than not.
Clothing is another matter. Call me an old soul, but I still believe people should dress for the parts they want. This practice should not be restricted to securing the job. It should stay in place during employment. Some may say a person’s performance is completely unrelated to his or her appearance, but I like to think that a person’s confidence level increases when he or she is well groomed and dressed, thereby influencing the motivation to do good work.
The lax dress code in Silicon Valley essentially eliminates the need for casual Friday as every day is casual dress day. In a way, this makes things easier. I never understood the concept of casual Friday. Are people not expected to work as hard on Fridays and dress comfortably to accommodate their relaxed moods? Granted, a lot of people cruise on Fridays, but they should be held to the same standards as they are any other day of the week. Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother” wore a suit every day of the week, but, then again, his work ethic was questionable.
I now realize how stodgy I sound. I need to lighten up, enjoy the California sunshine, and embrace the lack of dry cleaning bills!