Lathrop Mayor Chaka Santos wears shorts, polo shirt, and spat-style shoes to Lathrop City Council meetings.
Omar Ornelas - the 20-year-old Lathrop council member that at times comes across as Chaka’s political nemesis - wears Dockers-style pants, dress shirt, tie, and traditional black dress shoes.
The rest of the council runs the gamut from a more formal version of Omar’s attire - Sonny Dhaliwal often wears a suit - to California casual.
Say what you want about the clothing repertoire of Lathrop politicians but at least it hasn’t gone as far as someone wearing a $3,000 suit or opting to wear pajamas or what is now fashionably called “loungewear” to public gatherings.
Employees of one of the world’s most successful and aggressive companies - Google - can wear pajamas to work. Rest assured you can’t do that if you work for a firm on The Loop in Chicago.
California is a long way from Illinois.
Just like cultures and ideas clash in California so do standards for dress.
A well-heeled, high-powered developer appearing before the Lincoln City Council 30 years ago in Placer County was advised by his attorney that he was creating a “barrier” with council members who were factory workers, small businessmen, and a farmer by wearing shoes that were more expensive than all of the clothing that the five of them wore to a council meeting.
Clothing, they say, makes the man. But it can be a double-edged sword. Clothing can create unintended aloofness.
The latest rage among teens is to wear pajamas or loungewear to school. And it is being allowed in many school districts across the country. This isn’t exactly a new development. About eight or so years ago Manteca Unified put the kibosh on students literally wearing PJs, robes, and bunny slippers to school after allowing them to do it for a few years.
There is no argument from these quarters that such a standard attire is much better than pants worn around the hips - if that high - of guys who think it is cool to provide the answer to the ageless question of boxers or briefs or dress modes that expose a little bit too much for girls.
And it was just 20 years or so that shorts weren’t allowed in school even if it was 100 degrees while girls could not wear pants even on a cold winter day.
What should drive standards - voluntary or otherwise - should be the situation.
School is supposed to be a place where you learn to function in the world and be a productive member of society. Dress - to a large degree should reflect that goal. But then there are issues of affordability, comfort, and safety.
California casual - a style that runs the gamut from Dockers to tieless dress shirts for men - still sets the general tone in the Golden State.
And when it comes to dressing for success, it is tough to argue with Santos since he did win the election campaigning in the same fashion that he attends council meetings. Nor can you argue with Ornelas who employs a tad dresser standard than Santos that helps in a way to compensate for his age to send a message that he is serious.
But then again, Google allows its employees to wear pajamas.
You can bet, though, that their salesmen who make calls on big advertisers opt not to wear PJs and bunny slippers when they open a brief case to make a presentation.
It is the same reason you don’t see any council members donning PJs and slippers while conducting city business.
Dress - no matter how you frame it - definitely sends a message.
And wearing PJs to school or out in public leaves the impression that one really doesn’t care about standards except your own.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.