Q: We recently received a copy of your new book - Freedress For Success, A Businessmans guide to Sartorial Disarmament. We were , of course, impressed by Tom Peter’s enthusiastic review of the book which stated: "FreeDress For Success, I said when I received the manuscript, Cmon. You’ve gotta be kidding. Then I started reading. I laughed. And laughed. And then cried and cried. This is a wonderful book about life, business management and the nonsense of the ‘dress for success’ movement. Honest, Max, I’ll never wear a suit again."
A: Yes, it was a very nice review from a leading business management consultant and author. Obviously Tom, like many others, has long since recognized the stiff and archaic idiocy of the Dress-For-Success school of life and management. And, clearly, the changes in workplace dress have been quite substantial in recent years. Most notable is the high tech industry which has largely jettisoned the tiresome suit and tie routine. But still, many other bastions of tie-dom remain enslaved in their strange and stiff “professional" dress. Did I mention the tight, strangling, piece of cloth around their necks that cuts off circulation to the brain?
Q: Yes, and its affects on one’s visual acuity and such. You also mentioned this book was written some time ago.
A: Yes, mostly in 1989 actually, well ahead of the curve. And with the persistent efforts of my one-handed typesetter, employing his used Gutenburg press, the updated book is now out and available on Amazon.com.
Q: You really give a good background and history of dress customs and changes thru the years, I love the story about the tuxedo.
A: Yes, it used to be that men were required to wear white tie and tails for formal occasions in the old days... until one day a brave, creative, soul showed up in his own creation, a black, tail-less, short coat tuxedo. Of course, he was shunned at first, maybe even water-boarded, but eventually everyone then came around to his fashion, and soon it became another expected "standard" - and yet another to break away from.
Q: The moral of the story here is dont be afraid to be yourself, you just might start something new.
A: Yes, migod, novelty! In short, when in Rome, be yourself.
Q: Its interesting that we talk about a "free market" and yet so many are not really free in the marketplace, in terms of their dress options.
A: True, its still Organization Man time for many... the dark ages of factory, robotic, clothing in a new era of unlimited, made-to-order, choice. And speaking of the Dark Ages, many then wore black robes and vestments. I guess they thought that was scary and somehow lent credence to some altogether ridiculous economic, social, and religious doctrines.
Q: Many seemed trapped within exactly this same "power" dressing game.
A: True, its still "Power" dressing time for some... as if clothes could make a man. Break him is more like it. Try speaking relaxation to power, they’ll freak out. It’s Max’s first law: Bullshit needs powerful clothing, Truth can relax.
Q: Yet the Dress-For-Success thing remains a virtual imprisoment for many men today.
A: True. John Molloy, the author of Dress For Success once said "the tie is probably the single most important denominator of social status for a man in the United States today." So, there you have it, apparently a piece of cloth around our necks is the whole game. Forget your education, your talents, your artistry, make sure you have the right tie. This is nuts.
Q: I agree, and there are many other ramifications to dress that you point out that most dont consider.
A: I think it was Marshll Blonsky that said "The standard business suit originated in the 19th century, and its message is the immobilization of the body, declaring that the wearer is a brain person, who no longer does country work." In other words, class distinction was primary in the Age of Imperialism (still going strong, I might add) and so "capital" and "labor" were artificially divided by rigid dress customs. It was our caste system.
Q: But time passes and customs remain even though they lose their relevance.
A: That’s for sure.
Q: I howled at the "Lost" Federalist Papers bit, it really is a very funny and yet serious book at the same time. Congratulations.
Q: Thank you Max, good luck with your clothing line... we need it.