About the only people allowed to wear jeans to work every day are cowboys and rock stars. For the rest of us, especially here in buttoned-down Washington, jeans at the office are a rare treat.
Oh, sure, we often tend toward the oxymoronic “business casual” — that style of dress that allows us to explore the many moods of khaki — but the Lees and the Levis are usually kept in the drawer.
Unless, that is, you work at the full-service accounting firm of Argy, Wiltse & Robinson PC, it’s the third Friday of the month and you have access to $5, which, since you work at a full-service accounting firm, you probably do.
For the past few years, the Tysons Corner firm has allowed its employees to buy the right to wear jeans once a month — for a minimum donation of $5.
“Basically, you have to make a contribution to wear jeans,” said Amy Thorn, partner, assurance and business advisory services.
The firm matches the money and gives it all to charity.
Everybody likes to wear blue jeans, and this is a cool way to be comfortable while doing good. It’s denim do-gooding.
Of course, it stinks if you happen to have a meeting with clients that day. In that case, you have to pretty much adopt the sartorial style of said client.
“If they’re business casual, we’re business casual,” Amy said. “Nonprofit organizations and tech companies tend to be a little more casual. Some government contracts tend to be more formal, with a full suit for men, a suit-dress for women. The audit group gets the feeling like they miss out sometimes on the jean days. They’re always at clients.”
Last month on jeans day, employees at Argy, Wiltse & Robinson kicked in $380. Double that and you get $760, which coincidentally happens to be about what it costs to send one child to Camp Moss Hollow for one week. Our Send a Kid to Camp campaign was the charity Amy’s colleagues selected.
I hope this will inspire other D.C. area businesses to follow jeans, er, suit. If your workplace makes a group donation to Send a Kid to Camp, I’ll be sure to highlight it in my column.
“We remind everybody to wear tasteful jeans,” Amy said. “No holes. We don’t have any problem with that.”
Here’s my tweak: The more you donate, the shabbier you can dress. Throw in a hundred bucks and show up at work in your pajamas. Two hundred and you can show up in someone else’s.
In February, 13-year-old Rachel Jaffe welcomed seven kids 3 to 8 years old into her McLean home. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but in fact it was a service project for her bat mitzvah. Helped by older brother Seth and twin sister Naomi, Rachel held a babysitting night for her neighbors. For $15, she and her family would watch your kids.
Rachel also sold some toys she had outgrown. In the end, she donated $202 to Send a Kid to Camp.
Rachel has been going to a Camp Louise in Maryland since she was in the third grade. “I get to see friends and hang out at the pool, go down the slides,” she said when I asked what she liked best about camp. She wants other kids to have that experience.
“It was a win-win for everybody,” said Rachel’s mom, Margaret.
Many of us, Margaret said, are asked to donate to national groups. Sometimes it’s nice to help people who are closer to home.
That’s the idea behind Send a Kid to Camp, which each year raises money to help at-risk kids from our area spend a week at Camp Moss Hollow in Fauquier County. To make a tax-deductible donation, go to washingtonpost.com/camp. Click where it says, “Give Now,” and designate “Send a Kid to Camp” in the gift information. Or mail a check payable to “Send a Kid to Camp” to Send a Kid to Camp, P.O. Box 96237, Washington, D.C. 20090-6237.
Here’s another way to help: I’m delighted to announce that once again this year Clyde’s restaurants are featuring special Send a Kid to Camp menu items each Wednesday. Order them at any Clyde’s, the Hamilton or the Tombs and the proceeds will benefit Camp Moss Hollow. Today’s treats are asparagus salad and strawberry shortcake. Treat yourself to one — or both.
To read previous columns by John Kelly, go to washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.