It’s that time of year when cold office complaints are trending in your news feeds and on the Facebooks. I’m seeing a lot more responses in line with “it’s all menpigs fault because suits!”
Does anybody really think men want to wear suits? It’s frikkin’ 98 degrees out there with 90% humidity, and I can tell you I REALLY don’t want to wear a goddamn suit in this town in August! Now that I’ve lived in a city with a more relaxed dress code (Portland) I have some insight on the matter. And the fact of the matter is, whether or not you’re in a suit, your productivity is the same.
Suit culture is stupid, but unfortunately prevalent in Washington, DC. I’ve worked in some of the stuffiest (no pun intended) suited workplaces in the city, including one prominent nonprofit that does polling and research named after a very rich family, Homeland Security, and also for an Armed Services contractor. All of whom serve a public that doesn’t give a rat’s ass that you are in a suit. In fact, some of these agencies could really afford to look more approachable to the public, rather than look like “a suit” or one of the Men In Black. But they all wear suits. It’s especially bad around the Pentagon and Crystal City, and of course K Street.
Suit culture is a remnant of old boy bullshit, and/or lawyer culture that has permeated other non-legal workplaces. I don’t like suits, so please don’t tell me I want to wear a suit to make you suffer in the cold. BELIEVE ME, I’d much rather be wearing a string-top bikini and flip-flops or a sarong. My metabolism is over the top from my level of activity, and I can’t cool down.
Men in suits don’t have the option of taking their clothes off if it’s too hot. And in many cases, suited employees don’t have the option of challenging the culture or hierarchy to change suit culture. I don’t want to wear a suit, but sometimes I have to in order to keep my job. You, however, can put more clothes on if you are cold.
I think the core of the issue is gender and dress norms that could really afford to be changed, particularly in Washington, DC. It gets ridiculously hot and humid here and suits are impractical. Plus we all need to look _less_ like business assholes and more like we are serving the public. Polos and kakhis, and then we can turn up the thermostat for the cold ones.