Monday, September 15, 2008

Flip flops: Gen Xers know better

A column this week in Business Week features a Boomer complaining for the bizillionth time about Xers and Ys wearing flip flops at work. It's getting a little old already.

As someone who travels the country speaking on this topic to multigenerational audiences coast-to-coast, I don't get it. My colleagues all wear appropriate work wear - from the youngest to the oldest. As a college professor, I've seen students who dress ultra-casual (and I also did as a student in the 90s) - but in the workplace, heck no.

It is true that Xers and Ys manage differently, have different work styles, and want different things out of their careers than Boomers. But we do know better than to wear beach wear to the office. Knock it off already, Boomers.


Anonymous said...

From a middle school teacher's view, many of my older teachers (in their late 40's and 50's) still wear stretch pants to work. Which would you rather look at...someone in flip flops or a lady with snasauge legs in stretch pants ????

Anonymous said...

I'm an X'er working as a civilian government contractor on a military base in CA, and I'm here to say that much to my amazement I've seen Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y coworkers wear flip flops to work. Let me repeat - I work on a military base, let that image sink in for a moment. I think flip flops are ENTIRELY inappropriate at this workplace, but evidently there are plenty of people in ALL generations that believe otherwise and aren't afraid to show it. It boils down to common sense and good taste, in my experience, much more than age.

GenXpert said...

I'm curious as to where the flip flop wearers are located (what section of the country). I'm in the mid-west, so I'm wondering if we just haven't caught up on the fad.

Kristina said...

My son's kindergarten teacher wore the sporty-Nike-type thong sandals to school...but kindergarten isn't exactly corporate.

I don't see many people doing this at work either, but maybe it's Michigan's cold air keeping our tootsies covered.

Anonymous said...


I had to share Green Mullet's ( to my post on (

"My favorite time of the year: Casual Day at work.
But our casual days always come with a page-long set of rules (written by Boomers): No flip flops, no shorts, no open-toed shoes, no assless chaps, etc.
- Green Mullet "


Unknown said...

Um, clearly the Boomer article writer has not worked in some of the offices I have.

My last position was an office setting (a vendor for a bank.) I cannot tell you how many clearly Boomer co-workers showed up in flip-flop style sandals, wrinkled khaki capris, shirts that didn't even attempt a correct fit. They looked sloppy, VERY sloppy. Yes, there were Xers and Yers wearing similar things, the point is members of management and the Boomer generation were not making any attempt at all to dress professionally.

And maybe Gen Xers who say that tattoos are okay are simply reacting to spending years in workplaces trying desperately to cover up because a dress code from the 80's really hasn't been updated. Or maybe it doesn't matter what you look like (in some industries) but that the job is done, and done well.

I work in office environments. I've been allowed to wear dressy jeans at a travel agency, and I've worn closed toe shoes and hose at financial institutions. And I've seen people of all ages and stages dressed completely inappropriately in every imaginable environment.