Clothes Make The Man

by Paul Fischer

There has been a bit of a debate going on between myself, Christ Lester, and Jared Axelrod. Jared started it all on his Voice of Free Planet X Episode 136: It’s Called A Power Suit For A Reason. And then picked it up again in that week’s feedback Episode 137: Feedback And Forth. Chris Lester picked up the response on his blog, and I’ve left comments on both.

Regardless of my personal desires for a more relaxed world, I still found time to get this new suit jacket for the upcoming series of weddings we will be attending. It really does make me look good.

My blog comments are below the “read more”.

My Mac dictionary defines affectation as behavior, speech, or writing that is artificial and designed to impress. By definition, if I wear t-shirt and jeans as my default uniform, it is not artificial and definitely not designed to impress.

When I first started my career I bought the book “Dress for Success”. I followed it reasonably well, sticking with suits, slacks, button down shirts, and ties. I allowed myself black sneakers instead of shoes because of foot problems. It wasn’t long before I realized that my job required me to climb under people’s desks to fix their computers. At this point I switched from suits and slacks to Dockers which held up better.

Regardless of my chosen uniform for work, I still changed into my preferred jeans and t-shirt when I got home. Jeans and t-shirt are not artificial for me. They are my default state. My chosen garb. The suits, slacks, button down shirts, and ties are the affectation.

I’m a large guy. Usually I can’t find cloths that make me look good unless I work very hard. I have never found anything second hand that fit me remotely well, and I have spent hours in thrift shops. I usually can’t find much that makes me look good in the stores unless I go to a big and tall man’s shop. The cost of acquisition in time and money is rather large for a whole wardrobe. The cost of maintenance is as well.

I think you missed one opportunity this provides us rebels. By the American work force getting more relaxed I think the rebels will turn to suits and ties to show their rebellion, thus standing society on it’s head. The new punk may be the old IBM dark suit, white shirt, red tie, and black shoes.

I was the first of my group of friends to adopt the golf shirt and jeans as a uniform. Maybe it’s time for me to rebel again and start looking for some good looking blazers.

-Paul Fischer
Rebel Cothier
posted by: Paul Fischer on Thu, 6/12 12:38 PM EDT

Well said. But there is a point that I think you and Jared both missed. For the last 20 years or so I’ve been the chief computer expert in my various jobs. I discovered way back that customers expected me to look a particular way before they would really take me seriously. It was a personal style that screamed to them uber geek.

While my sales and marketing associates were taken seriously wearing a suit and tie, I got the best results looking rather unkempt. I affected a ponytail which looked awful no matter what I did, and went for a full beard and mustache before trimming back to a goatee. If I dressed in a suit I would be ignored. But when I dressed in golf shirt or t-shirt and jeans I was instantly identifiable as the tech genius.

Contrary to Jared’s main point, I was more successful when I fit the mold of what the customer thought a tech guy should look like. When I tried to look debonair I was not taken seriously.

I believe the thinking back then went like this: “He looks like a mess, but they still employ him. He must be highly competent or he couldn’t get away with it.” I know certain people who “get away with it” today. They dress Goth and it seems to be taken as a sign they’re very good at what they do.

Now that everyone in my industry has affected my mode of dress, I am pining for a way to be the rebel again. Maybe it’s time for me to find a nice blazer and tie to wear. Maybe if I get the color combinations so discordant my customers will think, “He must be the best. Otherwise how could he get away with that outfit?”

posted by: Paul Fischer on Thu, 6/12 02:25 PM EDT