Can dressing down save energy? That’s what some executives in Japan are hoping. By setting office thermostats at 82 degrees and encouraging employees to eschew the standard suit-and-tie, Japan hopes to off-set some of the energy shortages in the wake of the tsunami.
The program is called “Super Cool Biz,” and so far, it seems to be working. Reports of formerly formal Japanese business people crowding onto trains in shorts and sandals abound. Cubicles resemble changing rooms at the beach. Time will tell if all of this dressing down saves cash, of course. But for those of us in the US, the real question is, should we follow suit(less)?
We’re all for saving energy, but the problem with moving this plan to workplaces in the US is that we’re already pretty casual. Thanks to Casual Fridays and the ubiquity of jeans, most offices are now only slightly more formal than the average high school. It’s easy for us to go too far.
For example, here are five outfits that we could expect to see, if Americans adopted Super Cool Biz.
1. Blair Waldorf’s Lament.
Tights, as our favorite Gossip Girl style guru would remind us, are not pants. And yet, given the love that leggings and jeggings and all associated -eggings have gotten from stylists and citizens alike during the past couple of years, you can expect to see plenty of tights as pants any time you relax a dress code. The solution, obviously, is to forbid any bottoms without either a zipper or pockets.
2. I See London, I See France…
…We see everyone’s underpants. We don’t want to turn into the hemline-obsessed principal of your Catholic girls’ high school, but we will bust out the ruler if necessary. If you can’t bend over without showing the world your unders, your dress isn’t long enough. For reference, please see the following helpful chart: Am I Wearing a Dress?
3. This Was Cool in High School, So It’s Cool Now.
Listen, as your friends, we have to tell you something: You are old. It’s cool: We’re old, too. But none of us look the way we did when you got that Nirvana t-shirt, so do us all a favor and just put it away. Or wear it on the weekends, when your friends can appreciate it and make fun of you. Also, yes, it’s probably now too small.
4. Shorts on the Indoor Kid.
There are some things that no one needs to see, and your wintery legs in summer apparel is probably one of them. It seems Victorian to say, but generally speaking, your coworkers will be happiest if they can’t see any of your limbs.
5. Everybody Out of the Pool.
Surely, you’re thinking, it’s not necessary to point out that swimwear is never appropriate for the office. And yet, we assure you that we have been in meetings where people were definitely wearing tube tops intended for the beach. Meetings, as in more than one. Proving once again that if you can think of it, someone will do it.