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The yuppie uniform of yore was a designer suit paired with a Brooks Brothers button down and Hermes tie. “Finance Bro” was not yet a term and The Wolf of Wall Street didn’t exist yet. The stock market was constantly on the up and up, corporate gigs were coveted, and dress code was strict. Millennials had yet to enter the workforce and not to be dramatic, but workplace culture was the polar opposite of what it is today.
This idea of people holding one corporate job for a lifetime and then working your way up the ladder? That’s out the window for most of us. No one wants to wear a suit and tie to work anymore, either, and according to The Wall Street Journal, financial institutions and corporations are appeasing millennials by allowing them to wear what I’m dubbing the designer suit for a new age: the fleece vest.
Typically, the vest is worn over a button-up shirt and paired with chinos and brown dress shoes of any flavor. The trend is so pervasive that an Instagram account with nearly 40,000 followers, The Midtown Uniform (@midtownuniform), has sprung up to savagely document these corporate clones in cities like New York, Toronto and Washington D.C. The anonymous account adds pithy captions to crowdsourced photos, riffing on the omnipresence of this particular outfit. “Money isn’t really yours unless you’re fully vested,” read a caption on a recent post showing two men in matching pink shirts and blue vests. Despite the implicit ridicule, the comment sections on these photos are littered with friends tagging each other and saying things like, “Bro, this is so you.”
Personally, I love this look. If I worked in finance and also lived in NYC, you bet your sweet ass I’d be walking down Madison Avenue in this fit and screaming into my iPhone about whatever it is that people in finance yell about. As a matter of fact, the more it gets ridiculed the more I love it.
I’m sure plenty of people follow that Instagram account to laugh but while you’re on your way home to a five-person
closet “apartment” in Williamsburg, that bro in the Morgan Stanley embroidered Patagonia fleece is going to drink martinis and quote American Psycho with his boys at a bar in SoHo. You can’t sit there and tell that doesn’t sound tight as hell.
The trend has become self-perpetuating: People wear the vest because it’s what people wear. “Now it’s the new thing: It’s not suspenders and a bengal-striped shirt,” said Mr. Crowley. “It’s a Patagonia vest and a button-down shirt.” He added that the “bro-culture” of finance has helped reinforce this look, with its scores of men following the same path from prep school to the Ivy League to a job in finance. Looking like your peers is part of the package. Said Mr. Crowley, “If you want to be successful, part of it is wanting to fit in.”
If you’re wearing “The Midtown Uniform” you’re either actually making six figs trading stocks or you’re faking it, and either way that’s fine. Have we forgotten that “snake it ’til you make it” is a real thing or does that only apply when it’s for someone that we like? You dress for the job you want, not the one you have, and that no longer means wearing a pinstripe suit from Valentino a la Patrick Bateman, it means heading into the office looking like this Frankenstein looking motherfucker:
I respect The Midtown Uniform. I like that it’s evolved from its roots as an ironic joke on Silicon Valley into something that has finally dethroned the classic suit as appropriate office attire for men.
I’ve bitched for years about how having to wear a suit during the summer months is cruel and unusual, especially when our female counterparts are able to wear free flowing dresses and skirts. I know that the gender wage gap and harassment are far more serious issues than dress code, but can’t we all admit that putting four layers of clothes on – pants, jacket, undershirt, button-down – is certifiably insane during a heatwave?
The fleece vest isn’t admittedly all that better in the heat, but it’s a step towards ultimate liberation. Maybe one day we’ll have future bros roaming around freely through their corporate office in white Nike mid-calf socks, shorts w/ a 5″ inseam, and a lax penny, but for now I’ll take the fleece all day over a full suit. I know WSJ posted this article with the intention to poke fun at this outfit, but I’ll go to bat for this look where ever, whenever..
Image via Instagram