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Rob Jenkinson's Letters from America #20
by Rob Jenkinson
2007-03-04 10:42:12
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Dear Readers,

What’s a trustworthy dress code in your opinion? A nice medium range suit that proves someone has made the effort without being too flash or looking like a used car salesman? How about a uniform of some kind? Well, in America there’s an unwritten rule that trustworthy begins and ends with this look:


That’s right, trustworthy to the average American male means chino jeans (often high rising up to the belly button and pleated at the front) with a plain blue button shirt with white t-shirt underneath.

The guy above is “Phil”; he’s the symbol of WaMu (a.k.a. the Washington Mutual bank). The idea of “Phil” is that he’s a new style of banker and the WaMu ad campaign sees him getting up to all sorts of hi-jinx with the old style of banker (a bunch of cantankerous old men in a three-piece pin-striped suit).

In the first advert Phil has all the bankers roped off and is running his radical new ideas (free cheques for life etc…) by them to see if they don’t like them. The theory is that if they hate the idea, then it’s good for the customer. Phil’s dress code is key to the new cool WaMu that they’re trying to sell. Chino jeans and a button down blue shirt says, “Hey, I’m casual, I’m just like you, but I’m working!”

The chino jeans are a staple in men’s fashion in the Midwest. In some parts of the US it’s a bit like traveling back in time where bars or nightclubs wouldn’t let you in because you were wearing jeans. Even if you had a $180 pair of jeans on, they’d happily turn you down and let in the guy wearing the $20 chinos in.

Everyone wears chinos in the heartland of America and it really, really fucks me off. Why? Because for me it’s the absolute bare minimum someone can do to not wear jeans and look like they’ve made an effort, but they always look cheap and sloppy.

It’s what every man will wear for work (if their company demands office attire, which I find ridiculous, but that’s another rant). They can’t wear jeans so they wear chinos and all of a sudden it’s accepted, which is bollocks, they look shit - ban them.

I think Americans think that if they wear proper trousers, they suddenly won’t be cool, which is obviously ridiculous.

I’ll stop myself there, because I could go on and on about this and it’ll get very boring. I don’t know why it bothers me so much. I guess appearance is a big issue for me.

However, this isn’t something I just keep to myself, I fight the chino jeans everywhere I go and often come across like a deranged freak. Regular readers will remember when I went temping in a typical American office and the temp agency told me to wear casual office, wear like chinos and a shirt, I told them in a very serious and quite possibly menacing tone, “I. Do. Not. Wear. Chinos!”

You can only assume that if someone says that to you that you’re going to end up under their floorboards promptly afterwards.

Ah well, I’ll make America see the error of their fashion ways, you just watch me.

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Asa2007-03-04 13:56:07
I guess khakis are the same thing. Damn! Back to the tracksuit trouser bottoms...

Sand2007-03-05 08:25:32
That someone would be highly concerned over wearing either jeans or chinos strikes me as an extremely shallow basis of judgment of another individual.

Rob2007-03-05 22:41:46
Yep, it is indeed. But, isn't a dresscode instantly causing judgement anyway?

Sand2007-03-05 23:10:37
Never having had one I wouldn't know.

Marie2007-03-06 06:57:44
I see your point to a degree, at school girls had to wear a dress or skirt to dances whereas boys only had to wear a tie... but they could wear jeans and tennis shoes. It was ridiculous. I still think you take khakis and their brethren too personally though.

nat2007-03-06 13:23:37
good lad, fighting ugly fashion!

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