20 March 2014

Some Thoughts on Getting Dressed

I had to get dressed for interviews on two consecutive days this week. There were a number of things that I was reminded of, or noticed for the first time:

1: In early 2002 I went to a sale at Brooks Brothers and bought a pair of black Italian-made dress shoes that look kind of like these. At the time I was working at Trader Joe's and not earning a lot, but I needed them, and this was well before Brooks's standard level of own-brand shoes rose to near $400 and the higher-level Peal shoes to north of $600. The shoes I was interested in were regularly priced around $160, and on sale were right around $110 or perhaps slightly less. Those shoes have turned out to be an incredibly solid investment: they have held up extremely well (though I haven't worn them a lot) and are probably the most comfortable dress shoes I've ever worn.

2: Unlike the shoes, I do not have a good black dress belt. I have a belt that lands in a hole that's too loose or the next hole that's too tight. I'm not sure how this happened; I have a number of belts, and I think maybe I used to have one that was better but no longer fit. I need to do something about this.

3: While getting dressed, I briefly drew a blank on how to tie my tie. After a couple of minutes of fumbling and trying to wind the fabric around in different ways, it came back to me.

4: Corollary to #3: my one tie bar has gone missing. As far as I can recall, the last time I wore it was to an event we went to in October. I've checked the pockets of my suit jackets and looked in all the other places it might have been.

5: Waiting in the reception area while people hurry about is always awkward. But as I waited, I noticed something: many workplaces have gone to a more casual dress code, and as I watched these people going back and forth, I realized that 80% of them looked rather schlubby. Women and men alike appeared to have given very little thought to their appearance when getting ready to leave the house. That's a shame. (During my interview it was expressed to me this way: "Jeans are okay; ripped jeans are not." If that's all the guidance the employees were given, it's no wonder they looked the way they did.)

6: I enjoy dressing up, but I'm still not sure how I would feel about it if I had to do it daily.

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