Thank God it's Friday -- 'We get to dress up'
July 5, 1996
Web posted at: 12:30 a.m. EDT
From Correspondent Jeanne Moos
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Talk about reverse rebellion!
"Dress down" may describe the standard Friday attire at offices across the country nowadays, but in one company, shorts and sneakers form the dress code on all days except ... Friday.
Come the last day of the work week at AGENCY.COM, a fledgling computer Web site design company, there's a radical transformation: It's dress-up time.
At this workplace, it's not too hard for employees to dress better than they do the rest of the week.
"I usually wear a pair of Levi's jeans 501, button fly," said one employee.
So, in an effort to make employees look presentable at least one day of the week, the company began encouraging them to honor "dress-up" Fridays.
One employee was natty in a bow-tie, instead of his usual shirt and jeans. And 23-year old Dominique Ellner traded her usual laid-back look for a psychedelic glow.
The net result: They actually enjoy it.
Refugee from corporate rigor
"It's kind of a goof, but kind of fun," said employee Ruth Thomas. "I used to have to dress up every day so I have lots of suits hanging out in the closet waiting for Friday."
Thomas started leaving her suits in the closet when she left the corporate world and came to work at AGENCY.COM, where male employees are more likely to wear earrings than ties and everyone seems really young and into computers.
Indeed, why bother to dress up when the bulk of one's interaction is with a machine?
"I meet lots of people on-line, though," said Ellner. "They don't see how you're dressed, exactly. Eventually there will be Web cameras."
Here, it's hard to tell if someone is a construction worker or the boss.
" We have to lead from the front," said owner Chan Suh, who rigorously follows the "dress-up" Friday rule.
"Dress-up" Friday started as a lark, but a communications skills trainer brought in by the company calls it a terrific way to get these computer whiz kids ready for the corporate world.
"It's a way of playing the game, but still in a playful way," said Dana Patton.
A few hold-outs
Not everyone dresses up on Friday; those who didn't had excuses.
"Today's my last day," said one. "My Sunday best is in a wardrobe box in storage," said another.
Fortunately, there are no penalties for non-compliance.
There really is only one unbreakable rule -- they do have to wear clothes.
There are a few mulish ones who work around the system. Ivan Cockrum still wears his shorts on Friday, but he makes up for it with a tie.
Cockrum said his wardrobe is limited. "I have nine shirts just like this one," he said.
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