Business Casual

Right this minute, 3:30 on Wednesday, June 18, I’m supposed to be speaking on a panel at Harvard Business School Publishing’s “Meet Customers 3.0 Conference: Mastering the Changing Relationship Between Customers and Brands,” in New York. Instead I’m in my hotel room a few blocks away, upset but reflective.

Why? Because on arriving at the venue of this event I was turned away. It seems that jeans – even dark, neat jeans paired with a yellow collared shirt and navy Calvin Klein sport coat – are not acceptable attire for the club. Jacket and tie are required of all gentlemen, inclusive of conference attendees and speakers.


I’m left trying to decide what to feel. Should I be embarrassed? Am I an uncultured ass for wearing jeans to a conference at which I was speaking, particularly one in New York, and at the Met Club? Or am I rightfully indignant? Have I been unfairly shunned for attire which in my experience – as an ad guy in this city, long time tech executive in others, and 3-time CEO – balances my personal preferences with the need for a certain level of professionalism?

On the one hand the conference is at The Metropolitan Club, which one can readily discern requires jacket and tie. On the other, advance materials for the conference feature a sub-head called “Attire,” under which appears, “Recommended attire is business casual.”

So which is it? Am I an ass, unfit to walk the halls of power, or a 21st century exec, wronged by a 19th century institution?


8 Responses to Business Casual

  1. Why not just run around the corner on 5th and grab a pair of slacks?

  2. miketrap says:

    Fair question, and the short, honest answer is because I was pissed off.

  3. Jason says:

    Regarding the question, I’ll take the latter. 21st century exec wronged by 19th century institution. If the institution thinks perfectly acceptable attire in the modern business world is NOT acceptable to them, I’d be pretty pissed off myself.

  4. dcancel says:

    I’ve given up going into those type of places, I like the San Francisco dress code. Unless it’s a wedding or a funeral I’m not putting on a suit for any setting.

    You were totally right to be pissed. You’re not some kid interviewing for a job at the local bank.

  5. Tom Boates says:

    To require a jacket and tie is antiquated. I respect that it may be tradition and important to members, but it’s a shallow way for people at that club to feel important. If I was turned away, I’d never go back.

  6. Riccardo says:

    The second, for sure.

    (In Italian…: “La seconda che hai detto” 😀 )

  7. mzkagan says:

    My 2 cents: It’s the dress code that should be labeled “ass” (though that’s grammatically incorrect). That said, even the stiffs who think it’s you that is the ass, must admit that you’re an ass with STYLE!

  8. DMaire says:

    Denim is conisidered to be representation of informatlity..Research has show that bad behavior or innapropriate behavior increases..pretty interesting right.. Doesn’t take away from someone’s intellect..just a formality..stating…”informality”

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