If you’re anything like me, the words ‘khakis’ or ‘chinos’ conjure up images of corporate America’s concept of office appropriate casual wear. A world where, regardless of sex, employees are supposed to greet the news that they are allowed to celebrate the end of the work week by wearing khakis and polo shirts with the level of enthusiasm usually reserved for revivalist meetings and Barneys Warehouse sales.
Which makes the tagline for Banana Republic’s latest ad campaign, “Live in Chino. 7 days a week.” seem like a thinly veiled threat.
Clicking through to the accompanying website is even more demoralizing; articles proffering advice like "Any time you want to add authority, put on the jacket," rub (presumably carefully laundered) shoulders with suggestions to try a ‘jaunty sock’.
Worst of all, the clothes themselves fail to adhere to the most generic of the business casual guidelines. Monday’s patterned top, tight chinos, and ankle boots say, “casual Sunday brunch” rather than “let’s get the work week started”. Tuesday’s combination of a sleeveless mini-dress and bare legs would cause palpitations in all but the most casual of work environments (where, presumably, employees could wear whatever they wanted and not have to adhere to the capricious whims of the HR department).
Work may be a necessity; but corporate clothing guidelines, and the kind of marketing which panders to them, turn it into an unnecessarily evil one.