Berkshire Publishing operates out of picturesque offices in a turn-of-the-20th-century brick building on Main Street in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a town with a full-time population of 7,700. It’s a casual place, where only lawyers and insurance agents wear suits. For most of us, most of the year, dressing up means wearing a sweater with no holes. At Berkshire we’ve never had a dress code, and shorts and flip-flops have been normal office wear in the summer.


But there’s a rebellion underway. It started last week, and intensified today with the newly instituted Wednesday “Dress UP Day.” The women are all in dresses and heels, and Scott’s wearing a suit and tie. Even David put on a sports jacket in honor of the occasion. But our hallway neighbor Mark Fischetti, an editor for Scientific American, is dismayed. He calls it the invasion of the body snatchers. We call it a chance to wear clothes languishing in the back of closets, and to warm up for some of the city visits and conferences ahead for everyone on the team. Liz and Erin say that it’s important to have a training regime for wearing high heels, so this is really a part of our corporate fitness program.


It’s been instructive, too. Jenn explained that their generation (under 30) doesn’t wear pantyhose. They might wear dark winter tights, but the ladylike flesh-toned stockings that I donned today (truth be told, for the first time in years) are simply unthinkable. They’ll go bare-legged, or wear trousers.


Once we got down to business at the staff meeting (the new clothes were a bit distracting), the discussion focused on plans for trade and professional titles. The perspective of our under-30 staff is a big help when planning both popular and educational publishing projects and I told them we would start applying the Pantyhose Paradigm when we look at book proposals: If the traditional approach doesn’t work, can we come up with the right new model?


One of the reasons our young staffers are so enthusiastic, in spite of the traditional format of our publications, is that our topics are very contemporary. But I can see that the formats are going to be getting a makeover, too.