Yesterday I was deciding what to wear to work. After careful consideration, I selected an old favorite — a camel-colored, nail head-patterned suit.
As I was removed the suit from its hanger I noticed some wear and tear along the seams . . . and then I saw, to my horror, that the fabric of the pants had worn through, at about the point the keys in my pocket would occupy when I sit. Apparently, during my last wearing of the suit — at least, I hope it was the last wearing, and I haven’t been walking around oblivious to a hole in my trousers for months — the fabric had endured all the keychain and wallet-induced tension it could stand.
I’m sorry to lose this suit. I’ve had it for at least 15 years, and it’s been a faithful member of the Webner suit rotation, hauled out and donned every week or so, winter, spring, summer, and fall. I knew which shirts and ties and belts and shoes “went” with it. That helped make getting dressed in the morning into more of a comfortable routine, where I could let my lower brain make the familiar shirt and tie selections as my higher brain focused on the day ahead.
A good suit becomes like an old friend, capable of gently giving you important guidance. This suit fit well, and if it started to feel a bit snug I knew it was time to push myself away from the table and work to lose a few pounds. Now I’ll need to find another suit to fill the not-gray, not-blue spot in my closet — and to let me know when I should start that diet.
In the eternal debate between men and women about which gender is required by convention to wear the most ludicrous and uncomfortable business attire, one point should be beyond dispute — in a windstorm, the men’s necktie takes the prize for the most annoying article of clothing.
Venture outside on a hot, blustery day, and the tie that formerly hung placidly from your neck suddenly turns into a unpredictable, writhing irritant. One wind gust might cause it to unexpectedly flap up into your face, then another might wrap it around your neck like the scarf worn by a continental swell. In the meantime, your carefully assembled business outfit has been thrown into utter disarray, and the buttons on your shirt and your expanding midsection have been hideously exposed to an appalled world.
What’s more, there is no good way to deal with the necktie in the windstorm phenomenon. If you try to hold the end of your tie with your hand, you look stupid. If you tuck the end of the tie into the shirt pocket, you look like a nerd. If you try to ignore the flapping, you look comical. And if you remove the tie altogether, you raise the ultimate question: why are men expected to wear these ridiculous, non-functional things in the first place?
Friday is, of course, casual day at the firm. You are supposed to wear “business casual” (whatever that is these days; the mores seem to change with lightning speed). Today I got to wondering whether casual Fridays are more advantageous for men or for women. That is, do men or women get more out of being able to discard the standard professional attire in favor of something more comfortable?
This is not an easy question. For men, well-knotted ties and shirts that button to the neck are pretty darned uncomfortable, and if you are in a meeting where you have to wear your suit jacket, it adds up to a truly hot, binding ensemble. Kish tells me, on the other hand, that panty hose are about as uncomfortable as clothing can get.
Upon careful consideration, my conclusion is that casual Fridays are of more benefit to men than women. Why? Because even on casual Fridays, women often nevertheless wear what appears to be the most uncomfortable clothing item of all — their shoes. Many women’s shoes look more like the legendary Iron Maiden than comfortable footwear. They’ve got straps and buckles and high heels, all of the weight is on the ball of the foot, and often toes are jammed into some “open toe” slot. If I had to walk around in something like that for a day, my feet would be cramping up and would hurt like blazes.
So, I think men win the comfort contest. They wear open-necked shirts and get to toss the coat. Women, on the other hand, bravely continue to endure extreme pedal discomfort in the name of fashion.