For most of my adult life I worked in television stations. I was either on the air or in a management role. In either case, the “uniform of the day” was a dress shirt and tie with a jacket available as needed. It was the same when I moved into university PR, except during the summers and when students were on break, we could adjust down to “business casual.” Then I came to work at my current post at a marine research laboratory. What a change.
I almost always dress in the “business casual” manner, usually an open collar shirt and/or sweater in the winter, casual Docker-style long pants and deck shoes (with socks!). I will wear shorts only if there is a work-related reason, like going out on one of the boats or stomping through the boonies, etc. Otherwise, I am frequently the best dressed person on campus. Occasionally when I have some off-campus activity that requires it, I’ll wear a suit and I get all kinds of weird looks and comments here. Tee-shirts, jeans, shorts, and sneakers are much more the norm, especially among the science staff.
For some reason, I still cannot bring myself to wear jeans or shorts to work or church.
I remember a day last summer when we had one of our occasional road trash pick up activities. For obvious reasons, I wore shorts that day. It happened it was a Friday and my cousin and family had arrived for a weekend visit. His first reaction when he saw men was, “That’s not what you usually wear to work? IS IT?”
Sometimes it gets to be amusing. About a year ago, we got a call that a high ranking state senator was visiting town and wanted to come and visit us on about 30 minutes notice. I walked down the hall to tell my boss. He looked at what he was wearing, golf shirt, khaki cargo-style shorts and deck shoes minus socks, and said, “Oh heck. I don’t even have time to run home and change. I guess he’ll just have to take me the way I am.” Later, when I met the senator outside in the parking lot, he got out of his car dressed exactly the same as my boss, right down to the color of his golf shirt. We all got a laugh out of it.
The issue of dress came up today because the chancellor (#1 guy) of the university system is visiting us tomorrow. I sent out an email to the staff asking that they pay a little attention to their appearance tomorrow. We don’t need “Sunday best,” but it would be nice if they saved the ratty tee-shirts for another day. It probably hacked some people off, but that’s life.