HIGHTOWER: Up-Tight About Dressing Down

Time for another visit to the Far, Far, Far-Out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.

Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you into the carefully-orchestrated, up-tight word of "corporate attire." This was the land of the grey flannel suit in past years, and more recently it was the domain of dark-suits-with-red-power-ties. But these days, CorporateWorld has been turned on its head by the arrival of "Casual Fridays."

The Associated Press reports that Casual Fridays have now spread to Casual Everyday, with more than 40 percent of corporations allowing employees to dress down throughout the year. But, being corporations, the autocrats who run these places can't leave people on their own. They have stepped forward with a rigid set of rules as to what constitutes "casual." They even felt compelled to offer a detailed list of sartorial do's and don'ts, telling men that bathing suits and flip-flops are no-nos on the job, and telling women that see-through clothing is an office taboo. As for what's right, the rules state that casual means women might wear slacks and a blazer, while men should think in terms of chinos with a button-down shirt.

Of course, an entire industry has sprung up around the conundrum of corporate casual. AP reports that Esquire magazine and Polo Ralph Lauren have teamed up to offer a seminar on "business casual." You'll be glad to know that there's already a book out, called Casual Power: How to Power Up Your Nonverbal Communication and Dress Down for Success. Also, a new category of consultants has sprung up to develop dress codes for companies and to enforce the codes in the workplace.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... How pleasant -- Casual Friday Dress Police. Who says corporations don't have soul? Hey, get down ... and shake your corporate bootie!

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