Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Suits or no?

I was in an enviable position for most of my previous careers where I didn't have to wear a suit. I was either working outdoors, or in a pleasant, casual office. If someone wore something that upped the 'dress code' too much, everyone asked -"are you going for an interview?", or "is the boss coming? why didn't I get the memo?"

We didn't wear rags. The clothes were always neat, but could include shorts, jeans, slacks, along with polo shirts, t-shirts, or regular shirts, depending on the weather and what was going on in the office that day.

There were events that were a bit more upscale though. A trip to HQ, a conference, or a workshop, for instance. They seldom required a suit, but certainly called for pressed dockers and a nice shirt, at least.

I'm comfortable with the latter, but feel confined with a suit. Perhaps it's what you get use to.

Now that I'm out on my own and networking at various events, I'm seeing a need for a sportcoat and slacks on a fairly regular basis. I might have to move up gradually. Perhaps I'll find a consultant and get draped. I have little sense of color or style, and I don't really want to just throw things together for a 'look'.

In a related story, I find an interesting post over at Get Real. The discussion is on wearing suits at work, and includes this interesting take on some history.

"The sheer dumbness of men's suits are a holdover from design elements that may have made sense then, before central heating and indoor plumbing: like the phony buttons on the cuffs that don't really work, or the button hole in the left collar for which there is no corresponding button on the right, and the tie, which is a remnant of a scarf used to keep the neck warm in drafty halls.
One of the direct consequences of the mindset advocated by Stein is to label those who do not wear such extravagant and expensive get-up as being childish, or boorish. $1000 suits that require expensive dry cleaning, $500 shoes that require regular polishing, $100 shirts that require ironing, and so on -- these are simple, everyday barriers that define a caste -- the managerial caste -- and exclude others who do not wish to or are unable to play."

That's got me thinking. How much upward mobility do I have? Not much, I'm afraid. I can see myself wearing a sport coat when appropriate, along with some nice pants and a shirt. But there is no way that I'm ironing my clothes every day, or taking the whole kitandkaboodle to the dry cleaners a couple of times a week!
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