Friday, May 24, 2002

An email landed in my in-box. Subject line: Dress Code

My jeans looked up at me in alarm. My tennis shoes started to whimper. I told everyone to calm down, this happens every year. It's the summer crack-down on our rampant abuse of the term "business casual."

Our company has a strange relationship with image. We run the spectrum from tailored suits, to sweat pants, to those like me who get dressed in the dark by feeling around in a drawer and praying to god that there are clean clothes in there that fit. Jeans and a t-shirt are "business casual" to me because, well, I'm casual and I work at a business.

I understand that they have to at least make an attempt. If they didn't send a reminder every now and then that maybe tube tops aren't appropriate office attire, someone would wear them. And it wouldn't be the cute, skinny girls with big booyas wearing them, either. It would be the 300-pound, cellulite-riddled woman whose arms you never wanted to see outside of a tapioca pudding cup.

But that doesn't mean I want to give up my half-assed corporate stylings. I don't have to! The good folks in the fashion industry have provided us with a ready arsenal of terms to be used in our defense.

"You," I reassured my grey tank top, "are what we call a sleeveless shell." The tank sighed with relief.

"Don't worry, shoes," I told them. "You're nothing as crass as tennis shoes. You are leather-enhanced athletic footwear."

"And you," I said to my well-worn, comfortable blue denim jeans, "certainly don't have holes. Those are wear-imprinted fashion accents. The frayed hems are what's known as distressed edging. And denim? Bah! You consist of blue multi-toned, micro-woven cotton fabric."

My clothing sat up a little straighter, trying on their new, expensive identities, and I clicked the offending email right into the trash.

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