Dressing for Distress
February 9, 2010 -- I’m sure that at one time or another, we’ve all been involved in a dress-code debacle. The problem usually starts on the Friday before a three-day weekend when a few courageous souls try coming to work in casual attire. Pretty soon, every Friday is dungaree day, with an occasional Monday thrown in for good measure. Just when everyone is starting to get into the swing of coming to work in comfy clothes, the boss gets into memo-writing mode, and the fun comes to an abrupt halt.
"Dear Employees," the memo cheerfully starts, "we all occasionally like to let our hair down and come to work in comfortable attire. But recently things have gotten out of hand, so out of hand, in fact, that our office is beginning to look like the set of 'The Beverly Hillbillies.' So this memo is a gentle reminder that women should come to work in conservative dresses, blouses and skirts, or slacks. Men are required to wear proper casual business attire with a jacket and tie available in case visitors come to call. Have a nice day."
Now that actually sounds reasonable—all except the tie part. While considered de rigueur for the well-dressed man, ties are of absolutely no use when you’re banging away on a keyboard or shuffling through files trying to look busy. Dry cleaners, however, love them. Nothing makes a dry cleaner happier than a businessman wearing the better part of a Caesar salad all over his expensive silk Armani. The really foolhardy guy will try to use chopsticks at a Chinese restaurant, spoiling not only his own tie, but showering General Gau’s Chicken all over everyone else at the table. Dry cleaners salivate at the prospect of a power lunch at a salad bar or anywhere chopsticks are available.
Other than having to wear ties, though, guys have it easy. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we wear blue or black pants and coats. On the other two days we wear brown. All bets are off at trade shows, and we bring one outfit—it all depends on which suit has the least wrinkles. Men’s shoes are also no problem. The basic guy’s shoe is a large, oval sort of thing and is meant to be worn until the top of the shoe physically removes itself from the bottom. This arrangement gives men years of walking comfort before they have to break in a new pair.
Women, on the other hand, have to wear shoes that are shaped like tortilla chips with heels. Unfortunately, women’s feet bear little resemblance to their shoes, so they have to discreetly slip them off whenever they can. This is why some women don’t mind pulling booth duty at trade shows. They can hide for hours at a booth without having to torture themselves with their fashionable Guccis. Sometimes you can see them scampering from booth to booth, pretending to conduct business when in fact they’re looking for a few seconds of comfort. Their compatriots understand and gladly offer them refuge.
Women also don’t have the luxury of bringing only one outfit on the road. Every day they’re required to pull out a brand-new look with color-coordinated jewelry, shoes, and makeup. This forces them to drag rolling suitcases around airports while guys stride by with a gym bag full of socks.
Engineers have it the easiest, because they’re supposed to look eccentric. Most engineers wear shirts that look like they were once part of an origami project. If male engineers wear a tie at all, it looks like it was dragged through the steam table at an all-night deli.
I propose a compromise. Women can wear comfortable shoes and get away with the same outfit day after day if we men can dispense with these ludicrous silk nooses. On second thought, why don’t we all just dress like engineers? After all, whenever they visit this planet, they look comfy.
By Mike Donlin.
Mike does technical, marketing and creative wriiting for The Write Solution, his freelance business. He can help your company wend its way through the vagaries of the English language, and prides himself on his intimate knowledge of gerunds, semicolons and dipthongs. If you'd like Mike to pen a tome on a timely technical topic, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-889-4955.
Reprinted from SOCcentral.com, your first stop for ASIC, FPGA, EDA, and IP news and design information.