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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16157/boomtime-casual-is-back/

Boomtime Casual Is Back

March 21, 2011 by

On March 9th, 2009 the S&P stock index hit a low of 666. Also appearing on 3-9-09, was Jeffrey Tucker’s article “Dress Like the Great Depression.”   Tucker was preparing job seekers for a new sensibility in work attire, writing  “be ready for today’s tight job market, which seeks serious men, not goofs in sweats and polos.”

Tucker waxes eloquent about the smashing dress of the Great Depression:  hats, suits, shoes and ties, with everything well put together.  “The point is that these men were under pressure to perform, to show that they were valuable, to demonstrate on sight that they were desirable commodities as workers,”  Tucker writes.

Two years have passed and the job market remains tight.  On the other hand, the Federal Reserve has been, shall we say, loose.  Zero interest rates.  Quantitative easing one and now QE2, with QE3 and beyond under contemplation.   There was TARP and TALP and now TARP Jr.  A ballooned Fed balance sheet has money gushing into likely (the aforementioned S&P has doubled) and unlikely places.

Every Monday is now Merger Monday (this week’s big deal has AT&T buying T-Mobil) and social media businesses are popping up everywhere playing the Google lottery after huge valuations were hung on Facebook and Groupon.

So while the out of work paper shuffler may need to heed Tucker’s advice, New York Times reporter Austin Considine writes “On the Web, Every Day Is Casual Friday“. 

In web-land, everyone’s gone Zuckerberg.  T-shirts, jeans and hoodies.  “It seems that if you dress up too much, you run the risk of not being taken seriously,” said Erica Zidel, a Seattle-based Web entrepreneur who attended Harvard around the same time as Mr. Zuckerberg. “There is an unspoken rule in entrepreneurial culture that your look should be laid back.”

“It goes back to a mind-set that I think we’ve had in this country for a long time, and that is, ‘I don’t have to work very hard to prove it if I actually have it, if I actually own it,’” says Mark-Evan Blackman, a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Nathan Tone is trying to cash in on Zuckerware, creating Mark by Mark Zuckerberg.  Tone believes entrepreneurs dressed in suits are handicapping themselves in obtaining venture capital.  “Like you can’t get VC funding if people aren’t wearing sweat pants,”  says Mr. Tone.

Erica Zidel beat out out four suit-wearing competitors in a competition for start-up capital for her site, SittingAround.com. “I wore jeans and wound up winning. Not only did the audience look past my outfit, I actually think it helped convey the confidence I had in my company.”

And while Ms. Zidel felt confident in her jeans, maybe the problem was her competitors were not comfortable in their suits.  Tucker councils not to be stiff or stuffy in your refined attire.    “You must be confident enough to wear them as if you belong in them,”  Tucker writes. “The more you can look like your clothes are in fact no big deal, just part of your life, the more compelling the message will be.”

The last two years haven’t been boom times for too many, but for those picking the low-hanging fruit from the Fed’s liquidity tree, it couldn’t be better and they couldn’t be smarter.  That’s why they’re the current masters of the universe, they’re smart and who cares what they put on in the morning.    “The idea behind shabby vogue was to give the impression that you don’t really care what others think,” writes Tucker.  “You are the cutting edge, the smasher of idols and conventions, a person who doesn’t give a flip about how society judges such artificial external superficialities as pant creases and ties and things. Your value is in your very person, the fact of your existence on this planet.  In the boom times, the message of fashion is ‘It’s all about me!’”

What to wear, what to invest in?  T-shirts and stocks or gold and wool suits.


HL March 21, 2011 at 10:59 am

I wear silk boxers. Duh, winning!

The Fringe Economist March 21, 2011 at 11:08 am

these boxers get me in my go gear!

The Anti-Gnostic March 21, 2011 at 11:20 am

Zuckerberg better roll out the IPO and cash in his chips sooner rather than later. FB is already losing its clean, intuitive aesthetic in favor of stupid, clunky, henny-penny features from the advertisers who will increasingly call the shots.

There is nothing keeping FB’s millions of users on there, just like there was nothing keeping anybody on MySpace until a ‘cooler’ alternative came along. They are coasting on an easy, first-with-the-best medium which will eventually operate at pennies-on-the-dollar margins like everybody else.

Rick March 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm

“The more you can look like your clothes are in fact no big deal, just part of your life, the more compelling the message will be.”

You could say the same about casual clothing.

It just depends on local culture and what circles you’re in. If you show up for a bank job interview wearing jeans and a hoodie, you won’t be taken seriously. Likewise for an interview with bow tie wearing Jeffrey Tucker. But in creative circles – and I think many tech and Internet entrepreneurs see themselves in that class – casual clothing, or just having you’re own fashion identity is part of playing that role.

I remember that blog from Tucker. I understood where he was coming from. On the other hand, he seemed to be saying that people in the modern version of an unemployment/bread line should at least look good while starving. I don’t know, but I doubt that “dressing for success” in the 1930′s did many of the unemployed much good.

Horst Muhlmann March 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Sorry, but I’m not putting on a pair of “Mom” jeans. I don’t care what markbymarkzuckerberg.com says.

RE: Rick, I lost a Web development job back in the ’90s because I wore a suit to the interview.

DixieFlatline March 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm

The trick is to work for yourself.

HL March 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Amen. I have made lots of money in nothing but silk boxers.

Capn Mike March 21, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Or less, in my case. It get’s HOT down here. I’m known as the Naked Programmer. (Picture not included).

Daniel, Prince of Darkness March 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I don’t want to work in the public sector, thank you very much

mikey March 21, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Thanks for that tribute to Quentin Crisp.

Bobby Brager March 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Austin Considine is a dear friend from high school. It is a strange day indeed to see him hat-tipped on Mises.org.

xavier March 21, 2011 at 7:51 pm

There is nothing quite like a man in a custom suit.

Nuke Gray March 21, 2011 at 7:52 pm

With 666 as the key number, what matters is that you look devilishly cool! Satan silk socks and handkerchiefs, sinful red and bad-ass black as the main colours, and goat-skin boots!

CCG March 22, 2011 at 7:56 am

1999 yet one more time. Think I’ll go see if I can get some VC funding for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is.

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 11:02 am

“On March 9th, 2009 the S&P stock index hit a low of 666.”

I hate that number, it creeps in at everything I do.

Withdrawing all my money from my 401(k) ? Bang 6.66 left in the account !
doing a search for infrared sensors at digi-key ? Bang 666 items.
Calculating how much calories I burn by walking from home to the office ? Bang 666 calories.
Reformatting an image to make it fit my .pdf frame ? Bang 666 kbytes.
Ordering a pizza delivery at my uncle’s house ? Bang 666 Principal street, with my first name in the restaurant name.
Going at the grocery store to pick up two milk pints and some candy ? Bang 6.66
Going at the convenience store to buy the same items ? Bang 6.66 again !
Going to see a video on youtube ? Bang 666 views !
Measuring the outside diameter of some mechanical part with my electronic caliper ? Bang 0.666 inches !

This is getting ridiculous, what gives ? Is that some kind of sick joke ?

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 11:09 am

I know about confirmation bias, but this is getting ridiculous.
This number pops up in everything I do when I least expect it.

What gives ? What’s up ? What’s going on ?
Is that the same for you guys ?

Am I cursed or something ? LOL :-D

Stephan Kinsella March 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Formerly I would have formally read this article. But today I read it casually. :)

Vanmind April 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm

“Wool suits, the new Maoist uniform.”

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