New hot-weather office dress code OKs Hawaiian shirts, tees and jeans

Amid mixed reactions to the government’s “Super Cool Biz” dress code, which encourages men to wear Hawaiian shirts or jeans to the office as the temperature soars, retailers are set to cash in.

The Environment Ministry announced its fashion recommendations May 13, urging the nation’s work force to wear much lighter clothing to reduce the need for air conditioning and cut electricity demand.

During the campaign period that starts June 1, environment ministry employees can wear jeans (without holes), chinos, Hawaiian shirts and solid-color T-shirts to work.

The ministry is urging the private sector to follow suit and avert a possible shortage of electricity in the Kanto region, which is serviced by the embattled Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Many women welcomed the more-relaxed dress code, after shivering in past summers in overcooled offices and train cars where the temperatures are set to accommodate corporate soldiers in suits, but men had mixed responses.

A 55-year-old salaryman from Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, who is an accountant at a “conservative” distribution company, said he is uncomfortable with the new dress code.

“If you wear a Hawaiian shirt, it does not create the right atmosphere for work,” said the man, who was visiting the Shinbashi district in Tokyo. “I am old and will be comfortable only wearing the same kind of clothes I used to wear.”

A company worker, 36, said that he will adjust his outfits to suit the occasion.

“It will be OK to wear a Hawaiian shirt in the office,” he said. “But when I go to see clients, I will have to dress properly.”

The Cool Biz campaign was introduced in 2005 to save energy by setting office air conditioning to 28 degrees.

The new campaign period is two months longer, running from this month to the end of October.