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The hoodie is a particularly interesting piece of clothing. It has a long history and many reasons why we view this sweater as being unpresentable in the workplace. Which is ironic as they designed it to be worn at work.
Workers in the cold
The hoodie as we know it, a sweatshirt with a hood, was first designed in The United States in the 1930s. The Knickerbocker Knitting Company, founded in 1919, designed and marketed the sweater for laborers in New York who worked on the streets and in cold warehouses. And it was also popular amongst athletes, as it offers protection from the cold.
The term ‘hoodie’ derives from the Anglo Saxon word hōd, ultimately the same root as the word hat. In about 1930, The Knickerbocker Knitting Company became Champion Knitting Mills, the brand credited with inventing the hoodie. But it was not a brand new invention. In the middles ages, monks were already wearing capes with hoods. And people who worked outdoors also wore similar clothing.
Why we perceive hoodies as not being presentable
Although Champion released the hoodie in 1930, it took several years before the general public embraced it. It first gained popularity amongst hiphoppers in New York, and gradually more fashion brands added this garment to their collections. The well-known film Rocky which featured the hoodie brought the item to the attention of the public in 1976. Hoodies started emerging in the startup scene when Mark LoGiurato introduced them to various software companies. Universities followed, printing their logos on this comfortable sweater.
With the 90s pop culture explosion, this item grew in popularity. Many big fashion houses included it as a standard in their collections, and even more people were wearing hoodies. But on the downside, because you can cover your head, it became a way of getting around anonymously. After a few incidents involving the police, we associated hoodies with criminal activity, hooligans, and gang culture.
Because of the negative image, they banned people from wearing it in a shopping mall in England in 2005. Tony Blair, who was prime minister at the time, backed the policy. Ironically, this type of sweater was still being sold in shops in the shopping mall.
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Despite the hoodie’s negative image, I expect more people will start wearing it to work. Dress codes are becoming more relaxed and being comfortable at work is now a priority for more people. For me, it is way too casual, and for now, I don’t see myself wearing a hoodie to work. But who knows what the future holds? Perhaps if I can combine it with a pair of braces, I will be a convert!
Have you worn a hoodie to work, and if so, have you experienced negative reactions?