October 13, 2006

Am I Exempt From Casual Fridays?

This morning didn't feel like a button-down long sleeve shirt and slacks day. Vaguely anticipating the A's were not going to be in a good way in time for their afternoon game against the Tigers, I thought I'd show my colors in the office by going casual, wearing jeans, an A's shirt and ballcap. But somehow, all my A's shirts were in the laundry, so I instead grabbed an old t-shirt out of the drawer, and headed off to work, not in my usual fare, but something more appropriate for your standard Silicon Valley engineer. Yet, given the reaction, you would have thought I'd shown up shirtless or with a buzz cut.

In my senior year at UC Berkeley, when I was trying to pull double duty by attending classes and working in the Silicon Valley, it was common that I'd show up to lectures or class discussions in a button down shirt and slacks, while the rest of my classmates were the definition of casual. I had mentally moved on beyond graduation, and so had the wardrobe.

Since graduation, I've tried to appear professional, sometimes to belie my youth - in an attempt to be taken seriously, and have consistently dressed the part. In fact, in the summer of 2001, when I asked for a week off from work, I was told by my boss that he wouldn't sign the vacation slip unless I showed him a store receipt proving that I had purchased at least one pair of shorts. Truth was, I didn't have any until I met his demands.

As a result, today's incursion into jeans and sneakers land raised quite a number of eyebrows around the office, as did the fact I hadn't shaved, and showed up slightly scruffy. Many made comments - one saying he confused me for one of the engineers, while another, with a smirk, thanked me for "dressing up." Amusingly, even in my dressed-down state, there were others in shorts and sandals, or t-shirts in various stages of wear and tear. But because I had broken with what they expected, I was the subject of discussion.

At some level, this is a good thing, as I've forged a personal brand that includes the professional business look. While it was fun to make a one-day break from this, even if just to see the reactions, but I don't anticipate it happening on a more-regular basis in the future. The Tommy Bahama shirts and kakhis quota can be consumed by the rest of more casual corporate America.

Listening to ''Falling'', by Liquid State (Play Count: 13)

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