In Portland, Every Day is Casual

Anywhere else in the country, this man is labeled a hippie. In Portland, he could be labeled a certified public accountant.

I was trading messages on Facebook a few weeks back with my friend and former colleague Drew Lyon, who I first met writing for my college’s newspaper. Drew wanted to let me know he was coming to Portland to visit family and see some of his old stomping grounds from the five months he lived here a few years back.

Drew had rightfully assumed I hadn’t become a hipster from my many denouncements of the culture on this here blog. He wrote,

“OK, so you’re not a hipster. I figured. They love their tight jeans, huh? Question is: have you grown the requisite beard yet? I like to call Portland the facial hair capital of America, one of the few places where you can grow a beard and not be labeled a hippie. Plenty of hippies there too, of course.”

It dawned on me I haven’t shaved my face down to the flesh in a good eight months. Not since my last job interview, at least. And what a good eight months it’s been. I’m good for a weekly trim, but it’s true that Portland pays no mind to a little scruff. In a city that’s usually cloudy, no one gives a damn about a 5 o’clock shadow.

This is a city without a dress code. I work on the eighth floor of One World Trade Center downtown, yet I get to wear jeans to work every day. We still honor casual Friday, but it’s hard to get more casual than the status quo. I guess I know Friday as the day I get to wear running shoes to work.

I talk a lot of smack about Portland — which is sometimes deserving — but this city’s attitude regarding appearance is flat-out awesome. And mature, I might add.

When I was 14, I started bagging groceries. Back then, the dress code required I wear a white button-up shirt, a tie, dress pants and dress shoes. Earrings were unacceptable and facial hair needed to be approved by a manager. No visible tattoos were allowed. So, as a 14-year-old, I had to dress like a lawyer just to ask paper or plastic.

Now, I’m a working professional and I’m dressing the same way I did in college.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — look good, feel good, play good. OK, at times, I’m sure I look a little haggard strolling into work wearing an old pair of jeans, a flannel button-up and a pair of Patagonia slip-ons. But I look comfortable, I feel comfortable and I produce results on the job.

Take that, establishment!

So, what’s your dress code at work? What do you do to bend the rules?

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5 thoughts on “In Portland, Every Day is Casual

  1. As long as I have shirt, pants and shoes on, I’m good. Or so I thought. I was the culprit for the NO SHORTS policy and also had to learn the hard way that baseball caps aren’t allowed after I rode my bike 4 miles in the rain. You can imagine the horror.

  2. No dress code here at the MIT Libraries.

    I generally waltz in wearing a t-shirt, holy (as in full of holes, not religious) jeans, equally holy shoes, and a Twins cap.

    I like my job.

  3. I have to wear a button-up shirt, tie, slacks (am I the only person that is in love with that word?) and dress shoes. Basically everything but the suit coat. I don’t mind it too much. I’m young enough into my career where I appreciate the deviation from the norm of high school and college. I find my jeans last longer than when I was in college. The only time I wear them is when I go out, and that’s only once a fiscal year.

  4. My motto: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

    As a grad student interning for the City of Mankato’s City Manager, you’ll never catch me without a pressed shirt and tie – suit is a must for Council meetings. Don’t forget to shine your shoes!

    I don’t expect anyone else to think that way. I simply feel the most comfortable when I’m “dressed for work” and that means a tie is mandatory. A lot of my friends tell me that I’ll get sick of wearing ties to work. However I worked at the MN Capitol last session and wore a suit everyday. The only time I got stressed was when I forgot to iron the night before or when I forgot to pick up my dry cleaning.

    I’d also like to add… I look damn good in a suit :)

    Love the blog btw. I read it every day. Keep it up!

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