The Dress-Down Friday

Credit: Pete Souza

It is said there are two types of men; those who look forward to dress-down-Friday, and those who dread dress-down-Friday. The former encapsulates all the slovenly, tie-off-as-soon-as-I-leave-the-office, ‘Beer is Life’, ‘cool clothes’ loving office-misfits – the man who should be a surfer but ended up as an account manager. He doesn’t want to be in an office and, barring his efficiency, the office rarely welcomes his apathy. However, his one moment of defiant victory comes every dress-down Friday when he is permitted to wear his beloved jeans.

Yet, whilst appropriate for the colder times of year, there can’t be anything less comfortable than wearing heavy jeans in summer heat. A recent dress down Friday at work prompted thought on the topic as I gazed upon the mass of smokers stood outside in the sunshine, predictably attired in denim. Though they may have chuckled at my green trousers and tie – “It’s dress down mate, not dress up!” – their almost religious attachment to denim and its connection with dressing down provoked a similar response from me.

As ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’ as denim may appear to be, I think it is extraordinarily overused. I enjoy wearing it but it’s remarkable that a great many men, given half the chance to break out of ‘uniform’, never opt for anything else; no cords, no linen, no moleskin, nada. Just jeans, jeans, jeans. Followers of this mantra usually take one of two lines; “jeans are ‘cooler’ than anything else” or “jeans are more comfortable than anything else.”

‘Denim jeans are more comfortable’

Bilge. Denim jeans are not at all comfortable. Not compared to flannel trousers, cords, moleskin trousers, linen trousers, chinos and almost any other trousers you care to mention. Psychologically they are perceived to be more comfortable than anything else because they are common and casual; a man can wear them without worrying someone will point and stare and without any preconceived perceptions of them being special. For the winter, cords are warmer and softer; in the summer cotton chinos are cooler and more comfortable too.

‘Denim jeans are cooler’

Maybe once, about 50-60 years ago, when jeans were a symbol of rebellion. Not now. They represent conformity, the crowd; anyone believing they are still a badge of anti-establishment youth needs their head seeing to. Instead of aspiring to attire that chases end-of-the-rainbow nebulosity, a man should step apart and choose something really rebellious (green chinos anyone?) if his desire is to rebel; if it isn’t, and I suspect this is the case, plenty of other options – khaki chinos are an excellent example – reflect conformity as ably as denim.