Living in or around Washington DC and working a corporate or government job means you dress the part. While most offices have now instituted a business casual dress code, that are plenty that still require men to wear ties each day and women to wear close-toed shoes and pantyhose. My office in Arlington, VA was not too stuffy. The men could wear polo shirts and kacki’s and women could get away with open toed shoes, although backless were frowned upon yet not really enforced. However, even on Friday’s we were not allowed to wear jeans (which was a huge blow to me) and flip flops of any kind were an absolute no-no! Even if you wore flip flops on mass transit you better not get caught getting off the elevator by the VP’s in them or hell hath no fury like a bow-tie wearing VP who loathes flip flops and denim. I venture to say that 99% of the country has the following visual idea of “business casual”.
That 99% however does not include Seattle, or probably the Pacific Northwest as a whole. Seattle is a fairly decent sized metropoltan city with large corporate presence such as Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia, & many others, however the idea of “dress for success” is a completely 180 degrees here than in Washington, DC. On my first day to work here in Seattle I showed up wearing nice dress slacks, a button down shirt and high-end cardigan only to see half the people in my office wearing jeans or looking like they just rolled out of bed. I had to double check and make sure I had reported to work on a Monday and not Friday by accident. On any given day I think about half the workforce commuters on my bus are wearing jeans to the office. I have to admit, that I have embraced this NW way of life quite well. I love to call my co-workers in Arlington on a Tuesday and say “I’m wearing jeans!” just to get a rise of them. I still can’t bring myself to dress down too much, switching my slacks for denim is about as far as I have taken it, but I think I still dress fairly conservative compared to others. As the weather has gotten warmer recently I’ve seen everything from flip flops, shorts, t-shirts, even kilts being worn to the office. Perhaps Seattle is taking their cues from American Idol’s Anoop, because he seems to have Seattle’s “Business Casual” down pat…sans contestant # of course.
…and yes, this is reason #278 why Seattle and the Pacific NW are better than Northern VA/DC!