“I get to buy some suits!”
When my 21 year old son texted this to me, it was a full circle moment. From the age of about four, he had been regularly wearing suits to family holiday celebrations. He’d been waiting to go suit shopping for a job, since then. This summer, he starts a summer internship at a corporate real estate company, and for a hot minute he was worried that suits wouldn’t be required, in this post pandemic casual-wear world. They are. Phew.
A little history for you.
When I worked in the corporate world (Bay Street at one point) in the late 80’s and through the 90’s I would routinely wear a blazer, if not a full business suit. This wasn’t especially unusual at the time for women, and it was the uniform for men. They of course, had ties as well; typically we didn’t.
As the years went on and we rolled into the late 90’s, something called “Casual Day” was making its way through corporate Canada, a slow rolling tide from the Silicon Valley start up companies whose new uniform was khakis and denim shirts. We were allowed to relax our dress code for more “business casual” in the office, but only on a Friday. But what the heck was business casual? We were told what it wasn’t…t-shirts with graphic logos or sayings, tube tops, spaghetti straps, cut off jeans, ratty jeans, sweat pants…but exactly what was business casual? Like the definition of pornography from the Supreme Court, we’d know it when we saw it.
Eventually, the powers that be decided this didn’t just have to be a Friday thing. Unless you were seeing outside clients, or worked sales in general, or were in the C-Suite, did you need to wear a suit, a blazer, a slimline skirt, or even nylons? Heels? The world thought not, so things came down a bit more, five days a week.
And then, the pandemic hit and we all started working from home. Those who had reveled in living in sweat pants and pyjama bottoms all day celebrated. Maybe a dress shirt for a Zoom call, but maybe not.
I feel I need to take a quick qualifier here to stay that:
- I was the only one in my corporate office to fight against Casual Fridays, in the 90’s, when I was in my early 30’s
- I don’t own a pair of sweat pants and forbade my children from wearing them to school
- I don’t wear pyjamas downstairs in my house, ever, unless it’s Christmas morning and then I ache to change out of them before the last piece of gift wrap hits the open green garbage bag my husband is holding
- I have an unrivalled blazer collection in my closet, on rotation. Yes there is a “Cottage Blazer”. Or two.
This is why I am so pleased that now, the suit is back, baby. It never really went all the way away for the Bay Street investment bankers, and the professional sales people, but for women, there are more suits being worn in high profile jobs, particularly in the media, than ever before.
And I am so here for it. (As is my Gen Z son.)
Why? It’s so easy to get dressed. The pants match the bottom, and right now with the monochromatic look still in fashion, the shirt matches as well. Red, red, and red. My favourite. A suit provides a clean line, a blazer can cover up everything from a straining pants’ button to a coffee stain to a the back of a shirt that’s never seen an iron.
A suit is freedom. I fought for it.
And that suits me to a T.