I was crossing the street on my way to work yesterday morning, and my company's CFO caught up with me in the crosswalk. I could tell he was trying not to stare at me as we walked along, and failing miserably. Finally, he said, "Um, you...don't usually wear a lot of dresses."
I was wearing a mango-colored bridesmaid's dress at the time. And heels. Can't forget the heels. Because it was Friday, and what is there to do on Friday besides wear your fanciest clothes and revel in the half-ironic humor of looking good while trying to mark up manuscript? Welcome to Formal Friday, a departmental dress-up holiday wherein anybody who feels inclined decides on the meaning of "formal" and dresses accordingly, and tries to squeeze some work in on the side. You'd be amazed at how much time you can kill just because everyone's wearing tall shoes.
The idea for Formal Friday came about during lunch a few months ago, as we watched people in line at a local deli and gloated over our own lack of a dress code. Wearing jeans and Converse low-tops every day isn't a bad way to go, in my opinion. But there's also a certain allure that comes with dressing up--a feeling of adultness, of efficiency, of actually getting things done just because you look the part; plus, there's a whole universe of pretty clothes available to the dressers-up of the world. So we decided to take casual Friday and turn it inside out, just to see what it looks like to, as one person put it, "dress like adults." Also, as we found, "formal" is a relative term--business dress sounded like fun until we realized that none of us actually own any dressy business clothes. Hence the liberal definition of "formal."
So out came the tea-length, strapless number from this summer, paired with heels and my favorite $40 Target cashmere cardigan. Other people wore cocktail dresses, evening gowns, business suits, pearls, fishnet stockings, top hats, suspenders...all the things we love but never get to wear. Our dressing up--i.e. not wearing jeans, Hawaiian shirts, or sneakers--was such a historic event that HR came and took pictures (though that may also have something to do with the HR director's quest to have a viable newsletter). It was like Halloween, except everyone had the same costume idea.
And then there was the food: if you're dressed up, what better way to spend lunch than marching around the corner, past the hookers on San Pablo Ave., to McDonald's? After all, it's Monopoly season, which is...a terrible reason to eat at McDonald's. But I had chicken McNuggets, my first in nearly a decade, and I gave my game pieces to two of my coworkers, who are pooling their pieces so they can win $5,000,000 and not have to be EAs anymore, I think.
After work we all trooped over to Trader Vic's, which apparently is a world-renowned chain of tiki bars--they claim to have invented the mai-tai, and I have no reason to doubt them--that is inexplicably based at the Emeryville Marina. Apparently, it was quite the hot spot in the 50s. Now all of the same people still go there, and we joined them for mayonnaise-y crab rangoon and weird sliced pork and fruity drinks, along with a healthy dose of obnoxious hipster irony (well, that might have been just us). A good time was had by all.
And I have to say that, after 12 hours of boning and organza and chilly toes and a wrap that wouldn't stay wrapped, I had never been so happy to see my pajamas. Here's to Formal Friday and Casual Monday through Thursday!