I work with a guy who insists on wearing his suit and tie when we go out for drinks after work (typically on Fridays). Most of the other men will at the very least ditch the tie, while others even bring jeans to change in to. I keep telling him that he looks pretentious but he won’t have a bar of it.
I was hoping you could make a ruling on this once and for all.
You’re emailing a guy who has an unhealthy interest in male fashion, specifically business attire. Where did Chuck get this sick fascination from? It certainly wasn’t from Chuck Snr who works in the corporate sector and has flatly refused to wear a tie everyday of his working career (yes, Chuck did make his wedding black tie, requiring full tuxedo’s and bow ties!). In fact, Chuck has such a passion for couture that one of his greatest regrets in life revolves around not purchasing more than one suit when he stumbled across potentially the greatest bargain in suit buying history…..
On a lunchbreak one day, Chuck found himself standing inside a fantastically garish male suit store owned and operated by a chap named Mario. Mario swanned about in Versace with open collared shirts and his thick black locks, dyed and coiffed to perfection. Despite the look and feel of the store, Mario sported some of the finest suits Chuck had ever encountered. The prices were not cheap, but twice a year Mario would have a sale and Chuck would bite the bullet and outfit himself with a stylish number or two. Mario knew his shit and seemed to enjoy packaging men into his sharp outfits. To top it all off, Mario had a wife of Eastern European decent who smoked 8 inch, super skinny cigarettes and back in her glory days may have been quite the catch (or at least really expensive) – what more could you ask for in a suit shop?
Anyway, Chuck would typically visit Mario’s store once every 6 months – once to scout the suits and once to purchase when they were reduced in price. Around Christmas time after not visiting the store at all in the past year, Chuck decided on a whim to pop his head in the shop. As Chuck walked into the store, a white sheet of paper on the door caught his attention. Chuck backed up to read the document that turned out to be a notice inviting people to Mario’s funeral! Chuck shook his head in disbelief and entered the store to inquire as to Mario’s fate. A friend who was managing the store said Mario had been struck down by lung cancer (potentially from his wife’s second hand smoke).
It seemed inappropriate to buy a suit at that point and Chuck was a bit shaken by the news. What shook Chuck even more however was when he turned to leave and noticed that the suits were now being marked down by about 600%! Chuck left the store forlornly.
Returning the following week in better spirits and with a friend, Chuck snapped up two suits with the in-mourning Eastern European wife doing the selling. She tried all sorts of measures to get Chuck and his friend to pay more, even pulling the old “how will a widow support herself” card but Chuck did not bend. After making the sale, she batted her eyelids and asked for contact details so that if she decided to continue Mario’s suit selling legacy she could send us sale details. Chuck shuddered when the Eastern European proceeded to punch the details directly into her mobile phone. Either Chuck was going to be called upon for a rebound root or she was forwarding the details to her contacts within the Russian mafia.
Figuring that Chuck could feed on this decomposing whale carcass of a suit shop in the very near future, Chuck was mortified to find on his return 2 months later that the shop had been sold and although it contained all of the same stock, the prices had been jacked back up to their original prices! All Chuck had needed to do was make hay while Mario lay in his Armani crushed velour casket….or poke his grieving wife.
Having said all of that, wearing a full suit and tie to after-work drinks is pretty wanky.
If a bloke is ducking out for one or two drinks straight after work then Chuck has no problem with it at all. A post work dinner on a Friday night may also cut it. However, it’s the guys you see at 11pm on a Friday night cutting about in the full bag of fruit that’s the issue. Look, as good as a business suit and tie can look, they just aren’t all that comfortable. To be quite frank, ties serve no purpose whatsoever! They don’t keep you warm, they get in the way and if you are wearing your shirt and tie properly, they are fairly snug around your neck. So there is absolutely no good reason to be wearing one outside of work unless you’re getting married or preparing to bump into a random billionaire who may want to interview you on the spot for you’re dream job. Nothing like being ready Chuck says.
The only way a guy can make it worse is if he does that awful tie loosening trick – undoing the top button and stretching the knot so it simply hangs around the neck. That just looks plain stupid and really only works in Broadway productions where they’re trying to portray some guy down on his luck.
That’s Chuck’s take on the whole situation, so lets quickly examine why your co-worker is being a pretentious knob end.
The only reason a guy wears a full suit and tie to after-work drinks is to indicate to potential dates that he in fact has a job that requires him to wear a suit and tie. In effect, they use the suit and tie as a sign that “yes, I am successful as evidenced by what I wear to work”. This is all well and good if you want people to know that you’re a lawyer or work in high finance, but it can also suggest that you work as a concierge in the foyer of a high-rise building.
Since your co-worker isn’t likely to change with your protestations, Chuck would suggest you encourage him to at least remove the tie in order to stop looking like a try-hard wally. It is imperative however that if he loses the tie, he doesn’t end up looking like this: