Terry Mackin: Back-to-life dress code takes away the pressure

August 25, 2013 

Back to school means back-to-school uniforms for most students.

I'm a big fan of school uniforms.

School uniforms take the choice out of back-to-school shopping. When I was growing up, there was no choice in my world. The Sears catalog was our mall or Internet. At an early age, I learned to appreciate painless shopping for school clothes that were plain, predictable and within the school's handbook.

I like school uniforms so much that I wish we had uniforms as adults in my everyday life.

What does "business casual" mean anyway?

Should I wear a suit and tie, or a suit without tie, or a tie but no suit?

It's Friday, so is it really OK to wear blue jeans or play it safe with Dockers?

Here's my first draft at a uniform dress code policy for all average guys age 50-plus for today's School of the Good Life:

Hats, Hair, Accessories

* Wear your hair anyway you want. Just be glad you have some hair.

* Ditto for facial hair. If it works you and your special one, it works for us, big guy.

* You can wear any style hat you want. It must always be taken off during meals, church, the national anthem or we can take it off of you and stomp on it.

Pants

* Only khaki pants and shorts allowed. Recommend your pants and shorts have that magic piece of elastic on the sides of the waist, especially for much-needed holiday flexibility.

* No cargoes allowed. More pockets means more space for a guy to store useless, unhealthy stuff that he'll forget and it will go through the washing machine.

* Your long pants should reach the tip of your shoe. Old guys in capris look silly.

* The length of your shorts should be at the knee, minimum. It may have worked for Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in the 1980s. But you look creepy in short shorts, dude.

* Belt or suspenders required. Have a trusted family member or friend take an oath to tell you when you reach that milestone stage in life when you wear your pants so high that that you don't really need to wear a shirt, much less a belt.

Shirts

* Wear dark solid shirts. Keep the stripes or plaids for holidays.

* Your shirt must cover all of your stomach.

* Sleeveless shirts are OK. But please do not use a white solid-stick deodorant.

* Your favorite team's game jersey can be worn on game day only.

* Encourage that your name be embroidered or screen-printed on the front lapel of all your shirts. First and last names. Your high school and graduation year are optional.

* You must wear a shirt at all times. You are 50-plus. Relax. You are now on the eternal shirts team.

Shoes

* Tennis shoes are fine. They must be tied at all times. If you can't tie them, go Velcro -- if you don't mind dressing like a kingergartner.

* Sandals work for some guys. But if you feel a little silly wearing them, you probably look a little silly, so go back to sneakers. Sandals and socks are cool. You're 50-plus, remember?

* You don't have to wear socks unless you are going bowling or shoe shopping. Any color socks are fine. You're 50. Nobody is looking at your socks.

Outerwear

* Big, baggy sweatshirts and sweaters can be worn anytime. Hold it up. If it looks big enough to cover the dining room table, it's probably just right.

* Sweaters must be worn but not tied around your waist or shoulders unless you own a major league sports team or have a hole in the seat of your pants.

* The Secret Weapon: Every guy age 50 and more needs a navy blue blazer in his closet. The navy blue blazer is business, casual and/or business casual. It's cool with blue jeans, dress slacks or Bermuda shorts. You can wear it to church or ballgames. You can wear it with a tie or T-shirt. When in doubt, go with traditional, reliable navy blue blazer, and you're forever cool.

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