According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the latest workplace trend reinforces the Mark Twain expression*, “Clothes make the man” (or the woman). Yes indeed, some companies have instituted an paradoxically informal dress code that “suggests” employees don more formal attire for Fridays.
In tech sector cities on the West Coast—where casual Fridays have morphed into casual every day of the week—Formal Fridays are all the rage. And as Andy Jordan writes in the WSJ, “Even Facebook, whose chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, took the hoodie and T-shirt uniform to new heights, has a design team that often dresses up for what has come to be known as ‘Corporate Friday,’ a team tradition that dates back to as early as 2005.”
There are instances where employees are taking the concept of dressing up to the extreme, sporting top hats and their “Sunday best” on Fridays. For those who embrace their inner Bogey and Bacall, the idea is to break the monotony of flip flops and flannel; some West Coast companies also like to do it in order to surprise East Coast guests who may be visiting for a meeting.
Ravi Mikkelsen, chief executive of San Francisco startup jobFig, a software company that predicts job candidates’ compatibility with a particular team, tends to agree. When employees of his company dress up on some Fridays, “I feel like a banker…and I want to produce.”
For jobFig, instituting even a semiregular Formal Friday was a way to introduce some cohesiveness in a company with no formal office, he says.”
One style maven is happy to see hipsters stepping up their sartorial game. “These people are not in college anymore. They need to look like adults,” says Lydia Ramsey, a Savannah, GA business-etiquette expert and author of the book, “Manners That Sell.”
Ramsey says she is excited to see more companies putting the A-game back in their dress and believes employees are more productive when they dress in formal attire.
But Friday Fancy Dress is not just a West Coast fad. Some companies on the East Coast and around the country are embracing the trend as well.
Jen Doll of The Atlantic Wire writes, “The point is, Formal Fridays are a thing now, employees pulling out their old prom dresses or ‘Sunday best’ to be super cool—and different, but the same—in their finest.”
As for me? I’m wearing jeans today. Oh well. I’m so uncool.
* For anyone interested, here is the full quote: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”