But the problem with the envelope is, there is no envelope. Some rich old hippies burned it. First it was Casual Friday. Now it's Lip Ring Tuesday.
Years ago, I wore a tie and jacket to work. Everyone did. The men covering City Hall, the federal building, the criminal courts and the county building always wore a tie and jacket. Women reporters dressed appropriately, and still do, but the men have gone caveman.
When Sam Zell owned the Tribune for a time, he was a casual fellow, so the dress code at Tribune Tower became so loose that it's a wonder we just didn't come to work in loincloths.
What's odd is that while middle-aged folks dress casually, what with our untucked shirts and baseball caps, humming that we've only got 100 years to live, younger people are looking sharp. Like wolves. And soon they'll eat the geezers for lunch.
A young woman I know named Courtney put it best. "Being young makes it easy for people to dismiss you, so you don't want shabby or over-sexualized clothes to give them another reason to sit you at the kiddie table," said Courtney, ambitious, bright and hungry.
She also offered some dress tips. She hates shorts for men. And no shorts either for women, and no flip- flops, cleavage or sky-high heels. Open-toed shoes for women, insists Courtney, require a pedicure, "If you don't have one, keep your claws to yourself."
For both sexes, Courtney prohibits facial piercings, "and don't get me started on tongue rings."
And for men and women, but most often it's men, the trousers must not dip and display any region of the lower spine.
Displaying the lower spine is a definite career ender, except perhaps for plumbers, where it's expected. But lower-spine display in the office is something that many women complain about. Ask them. You'd be surprised.
"Crack kills," Courtney said. "Cover it up."
And don't wear capri pants either.