I've always thought that if someone was working at his desk -- with his suit coat on -- he wasn't really working. Anyone who has to wear a suit to work knows what I'm talking about. People who don't have to wear suits assume you're just sitting there, so you might as well be wearing a tuxedo or a Roman toga or a Speedo™ bikini brief -- what the hell difference does it make?
Well, quite a bit actually.
Suits are expensive, and suit coats love to get wrinkled. A wrinkled suit coat says, "I've been snockered on the couch", even if the truth may be that, "I've been worn by a hard-working guy who's sweated, squirmed, fidgeted, sprawled, stretched, shifted, paced, sat, crouched, and sprawled again in the course of doing a stressful job." Any sensible person who thinks he'll have to work extended hours would happily change into comfortable clothes. If you think you'd notch your best performance in the Decathalon while wearing hip-waders, you're in good company with those who claim they do their best desk-work in formal wear.
We do our best pretending-to-be-suave-and-sophisticated work in full suits, but if we don't get laid in the attempt it all amounts to nothing. Work happens only after we get over ourselves, and we can't get over ourselves while we're still in costume. That's why people take their jackets off or loosen their ties. They're signifying that they're getting down to business, and everyone who's been in those environments knows what that means (or, at least, what it's intended it to signify). They know it doesn't always mean that people are in fact getting down to business, but it does mean that those posing for men's magazines aren't doing dick.
In this context, I was delighted that President Obama's first executive decisions included an end to the suit coat straightjacket. By all means let's respect the Oval Office, but perhaps an enduring commitment to the rule of law would be more respectful than wearing suit coats while committing war crimes.
Anyway, Barack's in shirt sleeves. Rock on, my brother.