The Office: Michael Scott’s Birthday Suit
Steve Carell as Michael Scott, paper sales regional manager
Scranton, Pennsylvania, March 2006
Series: The Office
Episode: “Michael’s Birthday” (Episode 2.19)
Air Date: March 30, 2006
Director: Ken Whittingham
Creator: Greg Daniels
Costume Designer: Carey Bennett
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is my b-day and people around here just go crazy for it, I don’t know why. Oh, fun fact: I share my birthday with Eva Longoria. So I’ve a perfect icebreaker if I ever meet Teri Hatcher.
Before Andy Bernard brought his Brooks Brothers-informed sense of style to Dunder Mifflin Scranton, regional manager Michael Scott probably thought himself the branch’s snappiest dresser and particularly chose his 41st birthday as the time to exhibit that. Though this episode aired March 30, 2006, Michael citing that he shares a birthday with Eva Longoria would position the celebration fifteen days earlier on March 15, with Dwight adding the dubiously necessary detail of 11:23 a.m. being “the exact moment [he] emerged from [his] mother’s vaginal canal.”
Jim Halpert’s observations of the day are a little less creepy, sharing that “Michael’s birthday [is] pretty fun to watch, actually. He gets very excited, and then he eats a lot of cake, and then he runs around the office, then he has a sugar crash in the afternoon, then he falls asleep. And that’s when we get our work done.”
Before the work gets done, Michael has a grand celebration in store thanks to the party-planning committee “working 24/7, all day yesterday,” though he’s dismayed when the party is upstaged by Kevin’s anxiety surrounding the results of his skin cancer screening. Not that anyone would have been in the mood to eat eight feet of a bologna, tomato, and ketchup sub anyway.
What’d He Wear?
Through most of The Office‘s run, Michael Scott dresses for each workday in the typical business dress expected of mid-oughts corporate America: gray or navy suits in solid or subdued patterns, likely off-the-rack from Jos. A. Bank or Men’s Wearhouse. Michael’s birthday calls for something a little different.
“That suit is amazing,” Dwight compliments after Michael refuses a birthday hug on the grounds that he’s wearing a new suit.
Thank you very much, it is from Italy- actually, no… Bulgaria. So…
The bold white chalk-stripe of Michael’s wool suit immediately differentiates it from the other navy suits we’ve seen him wearing to work. Looking closer, we see that the single-breasted jacket is rigged with peak lapels, a fashionable alternative to notch lapels that has cycled in and out of fashion every 40-odd years and was just making its trendy comeback by the time Michael debuted his Bulgarian birthday suit.
The two-button jacket has four buttons on each cuff, padded shoulders, and double vents. Even the pockets indicate some trendy detailing, with the jetted breast pocket a noticeable alternative to the traditional welt and jetted hip pockets that gently slant toward the back.
Michael also introduces a new tie that follows costume designer Carey Bennett’s suggestion to The Hollywood Reporter that Michael owns “ties that I believe he thinks are power ties, but, to me, they are hideous… we get them at drug stores and places like that.”
I try to follow a rule that, the harder it is to describe a tie, there’s a lesser likelihood that it should be worn too frequently. Consider Sean Connery’s James Bond and his go-to navy grenadine tie: three words. And then we have this particular cravat. The ground fades between wide horizontal gradient stripes that repeatedly cycle through beige, brown, beige, and blue. Arranged over these gradient stripes are wavy parallel lines alternating between a thin dark brown stripe and a wider brown stripe overlaid with a gold paisley effect.
The French blue cotton shirt may be another off-the-rack item, but the double (French) cuffs differentiate it from Michael’s usual button-cuff shirts, fastened with a set of silver rectangular links, each with a large black rectangle filling the center.
Michael wears a black leather belt with his suit trousers, which are finished with turn-ups (cuffs) that break over his black calf leather shoes, likely the same split-toe four-eyelet derbies he wears throughout the second season.
Michael braces against the chill of late spring in Scranton in his go-to charcoal woolen topcoat, detailed with an Ulster collar, three-button single-breasted front, set-in sleeves, and flapped side pockets.
In addition to the makeshift yellow paper Livestrong bracelet he crafts to signal his “support” of Kevin, Michael wears his usual Timex Indiglo Perpetual Calendar quartz watch that—despite the “Quality Seyko timepiece” touted by the certificate framed in his office—would be his go-to wristwatch throughout The Office‘s second and third seasons.
Strapped to his left wrist on a black leather bracelet, Michael’s Timex has a squared tonneau-shaped stainless steel 40mm case with a slightly hexagonal black dial, marked under the mineral crystal with silver non-numeric hour markers and white day-date windows in the 3:00 position. Designated T2D611, the watch features Timex’s signature “Indiglo” night light feature and touts water resistance up to 100 meters, should one fall overboard during a motivational booze cruise.
As someone whose favorite cologne is the Rite Aid smell-alike “Night Swept”, the Timex was an inspired choice for Michael Scott, the underpaid and oblivious mid-level manager. Michael probably assumes that any analog watch ending in “-ex” is just as prestigious as a Rolex, and his Timex of choice is decent-looking enough—and certainly functional, as even the most affordable Timex watches tend to be—that he wouldn’t feel ripped off.
This certainly isn’t a knock at Timex, who are great at what they do: making a range of budget-friendly timepieces that look good and work well enough; after all, I have a few myself! It’s just that it’s all too easy to picture Michael jabbing his left wrist into a conversation with his corporate colleagues in their Omegas, Seikos, and TAG Heuers and tout that his quartz watch set him back a few bucks but, other than the cost of replacing a battery at the mall kiosk every few months, it’s been keeping time just fine.
Though no longer produced, older Timex T2D611 watches can still be found on Amazon, eBay, and other used retailers.
How to Get the Look
Birthdays are a time to celebrate yourself, dressing to mark the occasion. Even if one may not exactly share Michael Scott’s fashion sense, one can admire his going the extra sartorial mile in the spirit of self-celebration and his Bulgarian pinstripe suit, tacky tie, and cuff links are actually the least intrusive of his birthday festivities.
- Dark navy chalk-stripe wool Bulgarian-made suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button suit jacket with peak lapels, jetted breast pocket, slanted jetted hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and double vents
- Trousers with belt loops and turn-ups/cuffs
- French blue cotton shirt with semi-spread collar, plain “French placket” front, and double/French cuffs
- Silver rectangular cuff links with black rectangle centers
- Beige, brown, and blue horizontal gradient-striped silk tie with wavy brown and gold-paisley overlaid lines
- Black leather belt with silver-toned squared single-prong buckle
- Black calf leather 4-eyelet split-toe derby shoes
- Black socks
- Charcoal wool-blend single-breasted 3-button topcoat with Ulster-style collar and flapped hip pockets
- Timex Perpetual Calendar T2D611 stainless steel quartz watch with 40mm tonneau-shaped case, black hexagonal square dial (with 3:00 day-date windows), and black leather strap
- Yellow paper “Livestrong” homage bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the whole series, available on Blu-ray and streaming on Peacock.
You know what, Toby? When the son of the deposed King of Nigeria emails you directly asking for help, you help. His father ran the freaking country, okay?
The Astro Zone
Michael’s birth details—March 15, 1965, at 11:23 a.m. in Scranton, Pennsylvania—establish him as a Pisces sun, Virgo moon, and Cancer ascendant. Based on what I know about astrology, this fits!
I’d been in college for a year when this aired, and Michael’s tie is EXACTLY the sort of thing that popped up around the necks of my classmates come presentation or social-function days. I think even I was guilty of owning one or two similar pieces that came in one of those shirt-tie-pocket square box sets you could get for $10 at Burlington. Of course as we got older and developed more of a sense of taste and handle on sartorial history and guidelines, or choices evolved, but it’s a wonderful commentary on Michael’s character that even in middle age he still thinks that a tie most befitting a clueless Freshman is “fancy.”
I’m right there with you, my friend! I always liked clothes, suits, and ties, but growing up in the Pittsburgh suburbs meant Macy’s was “fancy” while Burlington and Value City were on hand to support my burgeoning but budget-limited clothes horse fantasies. Of course, I think it’s still quite feasible to dress well from these lower-priced outfitters, and it was also my un-informedness that led to the perhaps alarming number of Michael Scott-like ties in my collection as well!