Dressed for the office

Affirming that clothes do indeed make the man, Mark Twain said, "naked people have very little influence in our society." Still, the fashion industry seems to foist some mighty odd clothing concepts upon us.

Take house slippers. The Wall Street Journal recently reported the astonishing news that it is now deemed fashionable to wear them outside of the house. I don't mean when you schlep out in the morning in your slippers and robe to pick up your newspaper — I mean actually wearing your house slippers to work, restaurants and social functions. Not so very long ago, showing up at the office shod in slippers would've gotten you escorted down the hall for a long talk with the company shrink. But in today's "new economy," in which we're to believe that everyone is becoming a high-technillionaire by the time they're 30, not only is it OK, it's considered a sign of financial success. "Geek chic" is what one arbiter of shoe fashion calls it.

She declares that wearing slippers outside the home "says you must be working for a dot-com and be worth a million dollars." So, if you wear your bathrobe, too, does that say 2 million dollars?

Advice columnist Ann Landers was asked if this laid-back approach to office attire gets her approval, she answered: "No." She added: "I'm afraid things have gotten a lot more sloppy."

To make this high-fashion slipper thing even sloppier, it's also considered tres chic to wear your office slippers without socks. Of course, there are slippers and there are slippers. Real gabillionaire geeks could get away with shuffling around the office in their old scruffy pair of terrycloth slippers, but this is not what the doyens of high fashion have in mind. No, no, darlings, they're thinking of the silk and velvet Gucci slipper for men, now available for $285 a pair at your corner Neiman Marcus.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Click your heels, Dorothy, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. Jim Hightower is a syndicated columnist and radio broadcaster. E-mail

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