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Jewish World Review July 19, 2000 / 16 Tamuz, 5760

Roger Simon

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Consumer Reports

The tyranny of the suit and tie has been replaced by the tyranny of the blue jeans -- WHERE I WORK, we used to have Casual Fridays. This meant that the tyranny of the suit and tie was replaced by the tyranny of the blue jeans.

And that meant that each Friday I would spend the morning digging through the clothes hamper looking for the dungarees I had worn the previous weekend.

How did these get so dirty? I would shout to my wife.

"Spilling mustard on them at the barbecue might have had something to do with it," my wife would say. "You're not really going to wear those to work are you?"

I have to, I would say. It's Casual Friday.

"Isn't Casual Friday optional?" she would ask. "Isn't that the point?"

No! I would say. You have to dress down or you look like a geek. Just like the rest of the week you have to dress up or you look like a geek.

"I think you should just wear a suit," she said.

If I wear a suit and the boss comes in wearing blue jeans then it looks like I am trying to make him look bad, I said.

"He does look bad in blue jeans," my wife said.

Which is true. Some people do not look good in blue jeans. People who have the shape of bowling pins generally do not, which is what my boss looks like.

"Does he still have creases down the front of his jeans?" my wife asked. Yes, I said. And I think he starches them. It looks so horrible.

"Why doesn't somebody tell him?" she said.

Oh, right, I said. Like somebody should go up to him and say, "Hey, Mr. Bowling Pin, you look like a such fool with those creased and starched blue jeans that we all get a good laugh, so keep it up."

Anyway, I sponged most of the mustard off my blue jeans and wore them to work last Friday, only to find the following e-mail waiting for me. I am not making this up. This is really the new policy where I work:

"Effective immediately, we would like to expand the concept of casual business attire from a Friday only event to an everyday benefit.

"Casual attire is defined as attire that is more relaxed than standard business attire. However, employees are responsible for ensuring that their dress and grooming project a positive image to clients, customers, vendors and to the public.

"Casual business wear encompasses many looks and no single 'look' is suitable for every person or situation. It really means casual clothing that is appropriate for an office environment. It is clothing that allows you to feel comfortable at work, yet always looks neat and professional.

"We know you will use good judgment but as a refresher, the following is a list of acceptable and unacceptable attire:

"ACCEPTABLE ATTIRE includes, but is not limited to: slacks, khakis, sports shirts, skirts and dresses, blouses, turtlenecks, sweaters and loafers.

Jeans are acceptable if they are clean, without holes or fraying, and are not overly distressed; the kind of jeans you would not be embarrassed to be wearing if a client or important business colleague paid an unexpected visit.

"UNACCEPTABLE ATTIRE includes, but is not limited to: tee shirts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, workout attire, shorts, beach attire, halter or tank tops, dresses or skirts that are excessively short -- Ally McBeal-type -- sheer clothes or clothing that is otherwise revealing, distracting or provocative; flip-flops and sports shoes."

I called my wife.

What is an Ally McBeal-type skirt? I asked.

"What every kid wears today," she said.

Which means?

"Too short to anyone over 30," she said.

We're not allowed to wear them any more at work even on Casual Friday, which is now Casual Everyday, I said.

"You'd look lousy in them, anyway," she said. "You're legs are not your best feature."

What is my best feature? I asked.

She had to think a while.

"Your blue jeans," she said.

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate