Business casual at the White House

January 29, 2009 | By | 3 Replies More

When I was a teenager, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew that I didn’t want to wear a suit to work and I didn’t want to carry a brief case.   Fast-forward . . . I ended up being a lawyer who often wore a suit and often carried a brief case.  But I still don’t like dressing up and trying to look impressive.  I’d much rather hire someone who was really proficient than someone who tried hard to look proficient.   I’m not denying that having a certain look enhances a lawyer’s effectiveness in many situations–conspicuous consumption functions as a Darwinian display–but old impulses die slowly.

Maybe that’s why I enjoyed reading this NYT article on the business casual that is popping up at Barack Obama’s new house.


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Category: Communication, Culture, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    007(to Q): You know you're cleverer than you look.

    Q: Better than looking cleverer than you are.

    From the movie "James Bond – Die Another Day"

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Former Bush White House chief of staff Andrew Card is upset that the Obama White House dress code fails to show respect for the office. As if torturing, corruption, incompetence and lying to start a war show respect for the office.

  3. Erika Price says:

    Hm. "Appropriate dress" or "respectful dress" kind of flummoxes me. Sometimes the "appropriate" dress is excessively casual- a good half of any given class I attend wears sweatpants and galoshes, dissheveled hair and generally looks a mess. Wearing a suit to class would seem more "inappropriate" than wearing pajamas.

    Perhaps due to my high school speech & debate team obsession, I've grown to think of suits, dress shirts, or any kind of business/business casual attire as the clothing that most represents me. A silly notion, of course, that any fabric represents a person. Also odd: I can enjoy dressing in a "respectful" way, but still not make the mark of truly "appropriate" attire, because I have a facial piercing. So a person who willingly dresses up but has a small piercing looks less professional than someone who wears a suit only because their employer forces them.

    The cultural games that we attach to clothes are very, very weird.

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