Hipster Casual: Business Wear for 2008
Some office wear observations:
I recently started a new job and wasn't sure what to wear the first week. For some reason I went to my parents, both of whom are retired, and only one of whom dresses herself.
My mom told me to wear clothes that express how I feel, while my dad told me to let my girlfriend dress me.
Unsure which advice was wiser, I decided on clothes somewhere in the middle: a pink t-shirt with my full name on the front in green letters -- like a watermelon smoothie, as I'm often told -- along with a pair of old sneakers and a comfortable black hoodie.To my surprise, the outfit went over swimmingly. Within two weeks the CEO was introducing me as his CEO-in-training, and my editorial director was awarding me cash bonuses for writing news articles about grammar (true stories).
I mention this not only because it makes me look good, like the pink "Rob Peters" t-shirt itself, but because there are several valuable lessons to be gleaned here. First, and I've always said this, you've got to be your own marketing team in today's job market, you've just got to. Get your brand out there, even if it means a tattoo removal or two further down the line.
Secondly, and this is the more important nugget, business casual is for chumps. A pair of Dockers with a tucked-in denim shirt will not only hurt your romantic life, but also your career. It says to the world, "I'm stuck in the '90s, I lack a personality, I should have died with all the dot-com busts but didn't for some reason."
If business casual is borderline disgusting, what's the alternative? Needless to say, it definitely can't be found in neatly coordinated ensembles from Banana Republic or the Gap.
Rather, proper workplace attire can best be described as what my girlfriend calls "hipster casual" -- essentially what you'd get if you blew up an Urban Outfitters, a Value Village and East Vancouver. Hoodies, sneakers and American Apparel tight-fitting pants make the uniform of the modern white-collar worker. Hipster casual is casual business.
Like an Ikea yard sale, it offers simple solutions for modern living.
Popular thinking says there comes a time in every young man's life when he must choose between the sneakers he loves and the job he needs.
But I say let your beard grow long and keep your sneakers. Hell, get a boob job. You don't have to give in to the man -- not entirely at least. You only have to give in a little bit -- so you're just bohemian enough to come off like a "creative professional."
When you look like you honestly don't care -- a little cleaner than the homeless and a little more artful -- that's when people take you seriously in the boardroom.
That's hipster casual.