“Oh look at you! I’m liking this,” exclaimed the friendly young woman behind the Starbucks counter as a big smile beamed across her face. “You must have been somewhere important today, and you even kept it on. You didn’t change,” was the input from a fellow bar patron later in the evening. And then there’s always the standard, however vexing, question: “Job interview?”
Suffice to say, for better and for worse, I always enjoy the reactions I get when sporting a suit and tie around town, aside from my simple personal pleasure in looking and feeling good. At the same time I wonder why so many people think there has to be a specific and presumably taxing reason for men dressing well, as if it were some sort of uncomfortable inconvenience to be merely tolerated? Au contraire, I say. I happen to love dressing up and wish I did more often, for no other reason than choosing to do so.
I recall a dinner on Nob Hill with my parents when I was 11 years old. As the host handed me a blazer to put on, I turned to my father and asked him why I had to wear it. “Because we’re now in San Francisco, and people dress here,” was his matter-of-fact reply. That was 1985. I have a feeling the same situation in that same restaurant does not exist today, sadly enough. It’s said the “dot-comers” ruined restaurant dress codes here in the late ’90s, as they afforded en masse to patronize the finest establishments in t-shirts, jeans, and I shudder to think, ball caps.
Fast forward to 2011, to a time when far fewer men dress up anymore, or at least are not required to. The art of dressing well has been lost, for men anyway. There always seems to be the woman who appears polished and elegant in a restaurant, sitting across from a man who looks like he just rolled out of bed and did some work on his car. Poor her! Or does she mind?
It’s not just a social matter; professionally more and more workers dress down today as well. Therefore, jumping to the conclusion that my suit and tie indicate a job interview is a bit fallacious; after all, if no one I might be working for is dressed as such, then why would I be? There’s indeed the faux pas of overdressing in this regard, of which one must be mindful.
Neither a wedding nor a funeral. No meeting the president, nor appearing in court. And no presenting myself to any potential employer. At the end of business hours, come evening, I remained in my same clothing, in no hurry whatsoever to get out of it. Dressing well is truly a pleasure, one with which I wish more men today agreed and did not consider a chore. In any case, it’s high time to bring back the art of dressing well, voluntarily and with pride. That nice young woman at Starbucks is bound to share my opinion, and I’m sure we’re not alone.