Casual. What a prompt. I could write a book. Attire has been front and center in my thoughts for three weeks. That’s when I started a new job. In fact, I’ve already written about this. Maybe I should just re-post my recent essay Adult.
For twenty years, my life has been a study in clothes. Comfortable clothes. Casual clothes. Shorts and a polo in the summer; sweater and khakis in the winter. Everything cotton, one hundred percent. I own a couple of sport-coats. I might have worn them once per year. A tie? No, I didn’t wear a tie, not even to weddings and funerals.
Decades ago, I made a rule, a vow. Never be the worst-dressed man in the room. It happened once at an embassy party. A summer-evening happy hour. I went all Casual Friday, and I spent the next ninety minutes watching out for people watching me, judging me.
My vow dwindled away. I’m the guy who dresses down—at work and everywhere else. Once, in a meeting with a corporate attorney, I felt it. The office was warm and dark, lots of oak; the desk, substantial; the chairs, brown leather—soft, but not scratched; the lawyer, wearing a charcoal three-piece-suit, impeccable. Me? Shorts and a pair of trail shoes. I would have looked good on a hike. I wonder if my boss was embarrassed.
A new job, a new me. Redefine casual. It’s my new vow. A shirt and a tie. Pressed khakis. It’s a small concession to decorum. My shorts were getting a bit ragged anyway, a little stained. Now when I look in the mirror, I like what I see.