At my monthly Mastermind group yesterday we spent my fifteen minutes discussing my fashion. More specifically how I use the coat of professionalism to provide cover for my authentic self. The embracing of a style unique to me – jacket, tie, vest, dress shirts and slacks – is not about trying to impress anyone else but to remind myself to keep my focus on the moment I’m in.
Even sitting at home cold calling or working on a client project I still dress up. I may wear a tie and dress shirt all day and never leave the kitchen table.
Work is work and when the tie comes off it’s play – or chore – time. And in truth, those have specific uniforms too.
Perhaps in New York City or some corporate board room my fashion choice wouldn’t stand out. However, to many folks in rural northwest Wisconsin dressing up means changing from the the orange blaze and Mossy Oak camos to the Sunday best Aaron Rodgers jersey.
As a result I stand out. Which isn’t the intent but is a natural outcome.
Also, I look terrible in blaze orange.
I choose my fashion for a number of reasons.
- First impressions matter. Dress grungy be treated as grunge. I may not be overly concerned about what you think of my tie and vest ensemble but I do know it works to my advantage in both casual and business situations.
- I know my purpose. Dressing business professional doesn’t make me smarter but since I adopted a professional dress code consistent with my personality it certainly makes me more focused. Concentration is a competitive advantage in a world fueled by distraction and misdirected multitasking.
- I’m not in high school anymore. Watching AMC’s Mad Men I realized I had no style. Seriously: No style. I was wearing updated versions of the same clothes I wore in college and high school. Just in a larger size. Which may be acceptable at 30 but not at 50. Plus the 1980’s are not known for fashion. Well, not good fashion anyway.
- I have an ego. There is no nice way of saying this: I like to stand out when I want to stand out. I like to be different. I don’t want to be lost in the crowd of khakis and golf shirts. I want to be my own man. At 50 I’m embracing the non-conformist in me. Makes you uncomfortable? You find it off putting? Think it’s fake? Pretentious? Silly? Not my problem.
- It simplifies my day. Steve Jobs had a uniform. He chose for simplicity and creative reason. I’m clearly no Steve Jobs but I find knowing what I’m going to wear everyday simplifies my life. I don’t have an assistant to oversee my wardrobe and lay my clothes out but it helps me knowing I only have three vests and six mostly vintage ties to choose from.
- ZZ Top knows. ‘Cause every girl crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man. If I do need to go out, regardless if it’s to the grocery store or downtown Minneapolis, someone always has something nice to say about the color of my tie. I may not be dating but it’s always fun to be noticed and reminded I’m not dead yet.