October 31st, 2009

Jeans, the New Suit

Anyone who knows me, knows that I shun suits.  Even on occasions that “require” suits, I find a way to wear something else, usually a dress.  My preferred clothing, however, is jeans.  I can wear them anywhere, anytime and feel more confident and comfortable in the situation than I ever will wearing a suit.  The wearing of jeans by the account management (aka “client-facing) team has been a discussion at our office for several years.  And I think we have finally agreed that we hire smart people and smart people will use their good judgment to determine how to dress for the situations in which they are put.  And, when you know what you are talking about, what you say will be far more important than what you are wearing.  So, nine times out of 10, you will see me in jeans around our office.

As it turns out, this is a national trend.  So much so that the Wall Street Journal is even writing about it:

“Power jeans are increasingly common in high-ranking business and political circles. Indeed, jeans are now a legitimate part of the global power-dress lexicon, worn to influential confabs where the wearers want to signal they’re serious—but not fussy—and innovative.”

“Chosen well, jeans can suggest the wearer is confident and modern. Traditionally cut blue jeans carry a whiff of the laborer about them, so denim on a leader suggests a willingness to roll up the sleeves and dig in. There’s also something of the rebel in a pair of jeans. In the boardroom, that can read as creative.”

But there are still “rights” and “wrongs” to wearing jeans.  Just any pair won’t do.

“Few items of clothing speak as loudly, to the positive or negative, as a pair of jeans. As with tuxedos and Hawaiian shirts, wear them right (on the latter, only to a luau if you’re a mainlander), or not at all.

“To wit, fit is as essential for jeans as for tailored slacks. Eric Jennings, Saks Fifth Avenue men’s fashion director, suggests that men keep their executive jeans ‘dark and straight.’ And never dress as if the jeans had been switched out from formal suit pants at the last minute: No fancy French-cuffed shirts with jeans, he advises.

“In fact, getting power jeans right involves lots of no’s. No distressed jeans at work. No metal studs. No acid washes. No lavish embroidery. No boot cut. No skinny. No pedal pushers, shorts or cutoffs. No baggy high-rise. No super-low-rise. No holes. And no fussy ironing.”

Long live jeans!

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