Business Casual Conspiracy

Ladies and gentleman, there is an evil conspiracy afoot. It is covert. It is dangerous. It is the most despicable effort to undermine high-tech I have seen in years – and that conspiracy is Business Casual.

I'm not kidding. Sure, BC appears innocent enough. It connotes comfort, relaxation, and freedom! No more wing tips, starched shirts, itchy suits, and in my case, clip-on ties.

But it's evil! Horribly evil, I tell you. Because you know what's really behind all this? Vendors. Slimy, sneaky, advertise-till-you-drop vendors, and their desire to cover us with more of their logos than an Indy 500 racecar.

Remember the old days before Business Casual? We weren't attired in acronyms. We weren't laden with logos – except maybe on a mug. No one dared sew a symbol into a $400 pinstripe suit. No one even thought about putting emblems or abbreviations on silk ties, though I once doused one with salsa but still wear it because it kind of looks like the Nike swoosh.

My advice: just say "plain." Plain shirts. Plain pants. Logos should be no-gos in the office. Because at the rate we're going now, we'll soon be covered head to toe with them.
But now ask any employer: they'll say its PC to be BC. Which means every inch of our anatomy becomes an opportunity to sell, to turn body parts into billboards.

Don't believe me? Just look in your closet. Last week I took inventory. I had 6 sweatshirts with a vendor logo. 5 t-shirts. 11 golf shirts! Every time I go to a demo, seminar, or briefing, I get another XXL. Why don't they give us something we can really use? Discounts! Better service! I'd even rather have golf balls than golf shirts – I use them a lot faster, usually 3 or 4 while I'm still on the first tee.

And it's not just above the waist; BC has started to sneak logos below the beltline. I have seen vendor-logo running shorts. I got a fanny pack recently from my hardware provider – it's a lot better storage device than the ones they sold us last month. And there's probably about to be high-tech footwear, since half the stuff we buy requires a heck of a lot of sneaker-net.

My advice: just say "plain". Plain shirts. Plain pants. Logos should be no-gos in the office. Because at the rate we're going now, we'll soon be covered head to toe with them. You'll soon spend most of a meeting just staring at people's t-shirts, which our DBA did one time to the assistant VP from finance till she smacked him in the head with her day-timer.

I used to think: if it's free, I'll wear it. But freedom has a price. We are losing our independence. Becoming fashion slaves! Monograms yes, acronyms no! We are selling out to save $29 a pop. Go to the store. Buy your own clothes. And the next time some fast-talking dot-commer hands you a scarf, or sweater, or shirt, don't take it. Tell them to lose their shirts… just like I did on most of their stocks.

Michael Cohn lives in Atlanta and is fighting to keep attire logo-free… although if he could get one of those cool Cisco windbreakers, he might change his mind.