So when did jeans become appropriate business wear?

I was training at Air New Zealand a few years ago and I walked down a corridor behind two senior pilots. They were wearing dress shoes, business shirts, and jeans. And it dawned on me, all things change.

At some point, jeans became appropriate business wear. 

I wonder when that change happened? I wonder what the process was? I wonder how rebellious that first man wearing jeans to work felt, and how much shit he got about it?

All things change - jeans as appropriate businesswear image

I wonder how strongly he just didn’t give a fuck anymore because he realised that his pants didn’t affect his ability to do his job well.

I wonder about this because, #plainlanguage.

Plain language and change

People ask me all the time, when did plain language become acceptable? Appropriate? How come we’re still resistant to it?

Why did we ever even write formally? What will people think if I use plain language?

All things change - Quote - Plain language allows our readers to act with confidence, because they understand the problems, reasons or recommendations presented. - Shelly Davies

I have so many answers to these questions. So many thoughts. Lots of educated opinions, assumptions based on experience, and conclusions supported by research.

But for me the most important thing is to draw the parallel:

Yes, once upon a time, jeans were considered UNPROFESSIONAL.
Yes, once upon a time, a more personal, conversational voice was considered UNPROFESSIONAL.

All things change, my friends.

Plain language is EVERYWHERE

Take a look around you.  

Plain language really is everywhere (as are jeans at work).

It’s in the emails you get from your utilities providers, your insurance company, your airline.

It’s in the terms and conditions you’re signing (if you’re lucky). 

It’s in government communications and forms and systems.

Plain language example from Matamata Piako District Council signage - "Why are you dumping rubbish here?  I'm a jerk?  I don't care about this community?  I think other people should pay to clean up after me.  Don't be a tosser.  Dispose of your rubbish responsibly"

Where it isn’t, necessarily, is in your own business documents and communications.

Why not? 

Because, #jeans

Because there’s a preponderance (*not a plain language term but I just like it, ya know?) of examples of old-fashioned, overly-formal, ineffective documents in most workplaces. 

And because, when things are in writing, we think they’re set in stone. 

And because, that first time you need to write a report, what do you do? You go find one that’s been written before, and you emulate it.

Before your first day at work, you look at what others are wearing to work, and you emulate it. 

All things change - Quote - Remember the 6 most expensive words in business are: "We've always done it that way." - Catherine DeVrye

We don’t stop to ask, is this still the best way to write this? Is this fit for today’s purpose, and context, and readers?

If we did, we’d most likely scrap those old reports and start fresh:




Quote - What do business readers want?  You don't want #corporatewankspeak.  Nor do they.  You don't want long, waffly, unintelligible documents.  Nor do they.  Here's how to #dropthebs

Ditch that business suit

You can follow the status quo and keep wasting everyone’s time and money, or you can be bold and do it right.

You can wear the uncomfortable business suit, or you can be bold and wear the comfortable and yet tidy jeans.

And you can do a fucking good job while wearing them.

All things change – that’s a simple fact.

The question is, are you gonna keep up?