Barbara Morris has a clear idea of how a man should look at the office: freshly showered, clean shaven and buttoned up in a suit, shirt and tie.
“Guys who adopt unwashed disheveled trendiness cheat themselves. They miss the best opportunities in business and relationships,” she said. “Unfortunately, as in the story of the emperor who had no clothes on, nobody is willing to tell them naked truth.”
Nobody that is except Morris, an anti-aging expert and author of “Put Old on Hold.” She is a graduate of Rutgers University College of Pharmacy and at age 75 works full time as a retail pharmacist in California.
And looking through the window onto the world that her profession provides, Morris doesn’t much like the view.
“What I see is often just disgusting,” Morris said. “We no longer have standards of behavior, standards of decorum. Our society I think in many respects is in pretty bad shape.”
Morris bemoans the image of casual and rumpled. The mountain man look also doesn’t get very high marks.
“Ties have become uncool, even in business settings,” Morris said. “That’s unfortunate, because ties are a symbol of power, and power is sexy.”
What isn’t sexy, according to Morris, is facial hair.
“By the way, whoever convinced males that beards are sexy? They are not,” she said. “They are a sign of laziness, lack of self-esteem, and a need to hide from the world. A beard prevents a man from facing up to who he really is when he looks in the mirror every day.”
Of course laziness and a lack of self-esteem are only the tip of the iceberg.
“Since men are not the tidiest of God’s creatures, beards more likely than not are a sanctuary for yesterday’s gravy drippings or even the remnants of last Thanksgiving’s turkey dinner,” Morris said. “I can’t bear to be in a restaurant and watch a bearded guy eat. A lot of soup gets strained through beards. How appetizing is that?”
And don’t even try to make the argument that a neatly trimmed beard takes more time and trouble to maintain than a quick full-face shave every morning.
“I think that men who have a beard and spend time keeping them clean and trimmed is not the norm,” Morris said. “Most of the beards I see appear to be grown because it’s just easier than shaving every day.
“When I’m dealing with a man, I want to see his face. Beards hide tell-tale signs of character. I am so bummed out by beards that in my personal life, I try to avid doing business with bearded guys. I just don’t trust them.”
Women who tend to like bearded men fare no better in Morris’ eyes.
“Women who say they like beards are desperate and will put up with anything for Mr. Wonderful,” she said. “How many women love unwashed, smelly cave men have ever seen what they really look like? It matters, because character is revealed in the face.”
And woe be unto the woman who doesn’t decry a man losing the suit and tie and throwing on something a bit more comfortable.
“Any woman who knows she’s a woman would prefer to see a man in a shirt and a tie than in a torn, pizza-stained T-shirt and grubby shorts that reveal ugly, hairy legs,” Morris said.
She also thinks that women have lost their sense of style.
“Women dress horrendously,” Morris said. “I just can’t believe that women display themselves like that in public.”
Morris said she believes the provocative trend in female fashion can be linked to women attempting to catch the attention of men. But she doesn’t think it’s working.
“When a good looking woman walks by the pharmacy and a guy is also passing, the guys just don’t look any more,” Morris said. “I think it’s because it’s so saturated. They (men) can have as much sex as they want, they can see as much as they want on the Internet. Women are competing. They’re trying to be more attractive and sometimes they do go overboard – a lot of the times they do go overboard.”
So who’s to blame for this slide into stylistic purgatory?
“I think a lot of it has to do with marketing and what’s presented as fashion, what’s presented as acceptable,” Morris said. “It’s really difficult to go against what’s currently popular. But I think marketing has an awful lot to do with it.”
She doesn’t see the pendulum swinging back until people develop standards for their own behavior and guidelines for how they want to project themselves in public.
“I think I recently read something or saw something on the Internet where we are moving back to more formal attire,” Morris said. “But quite frankly, I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Mike Boyd is editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal.