Formal Fridays: Welcome to the Hip New Dress Code

For Fridays, traditional flip-flops and hoodies and jeans are out, apparently. People are eschewing casual wardrobes and dressing like, well ... people from the 1920s, top hats and all.

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It's finally Friday, which means you can get away with loosening that tie. Who are we kidding? A tie? Throw on some jeans and head in to work, sneaker-clad and ready to get through the day in comfort! Except ... things are different now. There's a new trend afoot, as reported by The Wall Street Journal: For Fridays, traditional flip-flops and hoodies and jeans are out, apparently — people are eschewing casual wardrobes and dressing like, well ... people from the 1920s (or maybe just hipsters), top hats and all.

It is true, writes Andy Jordan, reporting from San Francisco. Among foosball tables and whiskey and bicycles — the "artifacts of Silicon Valley culture" — he found employees in bow-ties and fancy suits, looking more like extras from a movie about Old Hollywood gangsters than schlubby tech types. They are matching their socks to their watches. They are behaving very strangely, all in a bid for ironic hipness. "It was Friday, after all, and to truly defy conformity at some tech outfits on that day of the week, one must not wear jeans or flip-flops," writes Jordan. Let's ignore the fact that if everyone's doing it as an arranged activity, no conformity is, in fact, denied. The point is, Formal Fridays are a thing now, employees pulling out their old prom dresses or "Sunday best" to be super cool — and different, but the same — in their finest. After all, one can't look worse than one's artisanal cubicle.

Formal Fridays aren't just for Silicon Valley tech startups, or The Barbarian Group, the New York digital marketing and creative agency where, in 2004, people stopped being polite and starting dressing up on Fridays. They're cropping up in other places, too. When something hip and trendy begins at a tech startup, it is sure to soon be co-opted by others! Like by those working at coffee shops, including a Peet's in San Francisco where baristas initiated Formal Fridays (informally, of course) a year or so ago, "according to one of the baristas, Bob Reginelli, who wore a hand-tied bow tie and a top hat on a recent Friday. The outfit, combined with his scraggly beard, caused him to resemble a modern-day Abraham Lincoln." (I urge you to watch the Wall Street Journal video. Reginelli's top hat is something special, and the whole thing plays like some hilarious satire.) But it's serious! Serious-ish. Even Facebook, land of the Zuckerberg hoodie, is doing it, with "a design team that often dresses up for what has come to be known as 'Corporate Friday,' a team tradition that dates back to as early as 2005."

It's an age-old message, slighted updated: Dress for success, people! Although if it takes an hour to tie your tie, or to find your watch fob or handcrafted heirloom monocle, some productivity may be in question. Are you really a success at all if you can't prop your legs on your desk? We suggest Pajama Mondays, for cohesiveness with better range of motion.

Image via Shutterstock/Everett Collection.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.