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The Other Shoe Has Dropped, and it's a Wingtip

Remember how psyched you were to hear that your firm was going business casual? To celebrate, you may have even handed over your itchy suits and ugly ties to charity. Well, get your khaki-wearing self down to Goodwill and see if your threads are still on the rack, because the tide has turned and business attire is back.

Having regained control of the conch, corporate America has begun to reclaim many of the concessions it had previously extended employees. Casual dress is gradually going the way of foosball tables, cappuccino machines and first-class domestic air travel.

Following the lead of Lehman Brothers and Deutsche Bank, Bear Stearns announced last week that its employees will again be required to report to work in formal business attire. According to Reuters, Bear Stearns’ announcement to its employees defines formal business attire for men as a suit and tie. For women, the new code means “a suit with either a skirt or slacks, a dress or other equivalent attire.”

This trend has already started to manifest itself on campus. During last year’s Hell Week, it was hard not to notice the pinstripes and cufflinks as students competed for the limited opportunities available. In last week’s Harbus, Career Strategy Advisor Joe Hodowanes wrote, “The way a person dresses is the single biggest nonverbal communication you make about yourself.”

Recognizing the increase in demand for business attire, high-end men’s clothier Hickey-Freeman will be returning to HBS after a four-year hiatus. The retailer has established a program available only to students and faculty entitling them to as much as 40% off their normal retail prices.

So you get to pick: you can get a suit and a job or you can just get used to telling CitiAssist, “Oh, I think he died.”

September 30, 2002
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