Have an important teleconference with powerful clients, but can’t be bothered to get dressed? New "business bib" puts you in a suit and tie… at least from the chest up (with ridiculous pic)

While I had one foot out the door toward my Route 3 commute, my 4-year-old son recently stopped me for an unexpected wardrobe evaluation.

“Daddy?” he asked, sipping his yogurt shake. “Why are you wearing buttons? Is it a holiday today?”

If I thought God cared about my business attire, I’d send up thank-you prayers for the blessing of being able to wear jeans and a T-shirt everyday. Sure, I wish my salary was higher, but the “no necktie” benefit is worth a $40,000 differential.

The big exception is when I meet face-to-face with clients. And rightly so. It’s tough to establish credibility in faded denim.

As the Herald’s Howie Carr often points out on his radio show, one of the few guys able to get away with ignoring any dress code is Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders (who was expected to be promoted to U.S. Senator last night). Following no logical pattern, Sanders could appear at a constituent event wearing a suit. Or he could show up in tattered flannels and uncombed hair.

Jealous of the congressman’s power to wear what he wants when he wants, I’m intrigued by the “Business Bib,” a promise to let us all freely vacillate between formal attire and slobdom. Think paper dolls without the pants. The “Bib” is a Velcro-enclosed half-suit meant to be worn while you are video teleconferencing at the computer.

Easy on. Easy off.

Inventor Brad Denboer, who helps produce sexual harassment training programs for blue-chip companies at his day job, developed the idea while videoconferencing from his Tucson, Ariz., home.

“Why should the person on the other end of the video meeting know that I’m not really dressed?” he asks.
“Why polish my shoes or even put on pants? Why should I get primped for the prom, if all I’m gonna do is make out in the limo?”

After a big splash in The New York Times and Good Morning America, all 18 color combos at www.businessbib.net are sold out. But using the Herald’s clout, I managed to get my hands on a stray navy blue sample lying around the warehouse.

On first impression, the Business Bib looks like an androgynous halter top that Madonna might wear in a music video. I also predict brisk demand from the Chippendale dancers. Indeed, a brochure neatly tucked inside the suit pocket warns wearers to be constantly mindful of posture. Slouching could easily put your beer belly in the Web camera’s field of vision.

I originally planned to type this column wearing the Business Bib, but tightness in the arms and shoulders was cutting off my blood circulation. However, the workmanship is fantastic. The fake suit looks and feels like it is fresh from the tailor’s shop in Milan.

Because Denboer didn’t go the cheap Halloween costume route, the Business Bib will likely fool clients and co-workers on the screen even if there is high-resolution video. Further enhancements also may be in the works. On his Web site, the fashion innovator promises to soon unveil a “secret surprise.”

Hopefully, it’s a Velcro-attached fake face so we don’t have to shave either.