Danny Tyree: Should men wear shorts in the office?
Will "aw shucks" businessmen someday say, "We put our pants on half a leg at a time, just like everyone else"? According to the Christian Science Monitor and NBC News, a new social media movement, #FreeTheKnee, is gaining ground in its campaign t...
Will “aw shucks” businessmen someday say, “We put our pants on half a leg at a time, just like everyone else”?
According to the Christian Science Monitor and NBC News, a new social media movement, #FreeTheKnee, is gaining ground in its campaign to make men’s shorts acceptable office attire.
I already wear shorts (Carhartt, if you must know) in my physically demanding day job, and I see no reason to deny similar freedom to white collar workers.
Lots of managers and outside busybodies disagree, however. Dignity and professionalism will supposedly suffer if shorts are allowed into the workplace. I can’t say I would turn cartwheels for a psychiatrist who looks like he’s ready to play volleyball - but then again, I wouldn’t want one who looks poised to embalm me, either. We’re told that people want businessmen whose image commands trust, confidence, respect. Right - like I want financial advice from someone who pays out the wazoo for needless air conditioning. (“Look in our brochure, to see how we also ignore leaky pipes and leave the office lights on all night.”)
Don’t get me started on recent studies showing that women must wear extra layers to cope with offices kept chilly enough for overdressed men. We’re supposed to let dieticians and stockbrokers guilt us into doing The Sensible Thing when they wont’ even do a sensible thing like seeking ventilation during a sweltering summer? Opponents of shorts in the office emphasize tradition more than a road company of “Fiddler On The Roof.” (“I’ll just read these chicken entrails to divine what interest rate to charge you. What? I’m sorry - we can’t give you a loan for a horseless carriage unless the radio plays only barbershop quartet music.”)
Some opponents really chew the scenery, sighing “My grandfather -who won Haberdasher of the Year seven years in a row - must be turning over in his grave because of the heresy of #FreeTheKnee.” No, your grandfather is turning over in his grave because one of my ancestors is kicking his butt for dissing kilts. Some commentators warn that blurring the boundaries between work and relaxation can cause discomfort and awkwardness. Of course we have such DISTINCT boundaries otherwise. You know, home is the place you go to eat six boxes of Girl Scout cookies your supervisor’s daughter was selling.
“Esquire” magazine is trying to be accommodating to the movement, but has issued strict guidelines about which types of shorts are permissible, what shirt and shoes to wear, etc. Some fellows have taken it better than others. (“First I had to give up my General Lee. Now I have to give up my Daisy Dukes!”)
There’s still hope.Our arbitrary dress codes are not carved in stone. If they were carved in stone, the masons would probably have passed out from heat exhaustion after insisting on wearing long pants. Granted, some skeptics just won’t give in. They think shorts are just too big a distraction. They think jealous co-worker catcalls such as “My grandpa the veterinarian euthanized better looking calves than those” interfere with the important office work of bulldozing virgin forests to build a new strip mall, conning consumers into buying an unnecessary extended warranty or composing commercial jingles that bore into your brain.
*Ahem* On second thought, maybe we need a few more distractions. Anybody want to petition for hospital gowns in the office?
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