A few weeks back in Wisconsin, the barista at the Delavan Starbucks displayed the most impressive collection of flair I’d seen in ages, and in a place not normally known for flair: the bill of her Starbucks baseball cap.
I myself never had a job that required or cried out for flair, although I loved to pin pins to my Levi’s denim jacket, especially during my mod/new wave days of the ‘80s. I’ve also been known to don an election pin here and there, and during my early years in advertising, occasional would sport a pin announcing, “I’ve got charts and graphs to back this up.”
These small circles of expression are yet another tangible artifact that document different points and opinions in time: politics (“I like Ike”), protest (“Make Love, Not War”), and punk bands (The Damned, The Buzzcocks, Misfits). They have always made it easy to declare our love or hate for just about anything, and do so with more quiet restraint, and dare I say, “flair.” No words necessary.
My dear friend Michele worked at a Pittsburgh TGI Fridays in the mid-80s and had a flair fling, or an “aflair” if you will. It provided the perfect outlet for her to exert individuality and alternative spirit onto her corporate mainstream casual dining uniform. As someone who has always loved to express herself through her style and wears her heart on her sleeve, Michele’s black tights, beat-up boots and subversive pin collection revolted against her crisp red and white striped TGI-shirt, sartorial middle-finger flung high into the air stuffed with the smells of potato skins, first dates and fried everything.
Flair was mocked and given national exposure in this famous scene from the cult classic movie, “Office Space”:
Sadly, Office Space also killed flair, at least at TGI Friday’s:
“About four years after Office Space came out, T.G.I. Fridays got rid of all that (button) flair, because people would come in and make cracks about it,” Judge recently told Deadline.
“One of my ADs asked once at the restaurant why their flair was missing and they said they removed it because of that movie Office Space. So, maybe I made the world a better place.”
I’m not so sure a world devoid of flair is a better place. Which is why that heavily buttoned bill in Wisconsin made me smile and that carbon copy, cookie-cutter Starbucks a much better place. At least for me.
Let’s bring back flair. Go root through your stashed stuff from decades past. Scour ebay for band buttons (there are loads). Pile pins on your coats and bags and blazers. Announce your mood, your music, your milestones and meltdowns.
And have nice day!
PS: The pins featured in this post, other than the Smiley face, are courtesy of Michele from her TGI days.