Our choice of clothing can turn heads, it can provoke comment and debate and it can make a statement (intentionally or otherwise). Whether you want your clothes to do any of these is of course a personal preference, but it is generally accepted that what you wear will lead to assumptions being made about you by some people you encounter that day.
I generally try to ensure my clothes for any given day make me feel ready for anything or anyone who comes my way. I am a firm believer in keeping self-esteem and self-confidence at a respectable level. Clothing contributes to this as well as Health in your 40s
I generally prefer to dress for my own fulfilment and mindset, as opposed to that of others. I recently read an article where a manager of a hurling team (Google the game of hurling of you have never seen it!) was asked how he was preparing his side for an upcoming championship game. His strategy was to prepare with a 90/10 split, with 90% of the focus being on his own side and just 10% on what the other side were planning or thinking.
I think I come at dressing in a similar vein. I dress for myself and to make my own mood the basis for what I wear, while acknowledging that my choices may well be examined by others and lead them to make assumptions of me.
So, when can clothes lift your mood?
Potentially always. However, Saturday in particular gives me a free hand to choose without the semi-rigid, professional image of the workplace to adhere to. After my shower and shave it’s selection time. If it’s a relaxed, warmish day then a weekend shirt or plain (although stripes can work) t-shirt will be paired with some Universal Works, Oliver Spencer or Amfeast trousers (these three in are perfect for my current smart-casual look) Trousers my Grandfather would have worn and they are back in fashion
If it’s a colder day then denim gets paired with likewise, but in a layered manner. Denim & a guy in his 40s…A relatively simple formula then.
Why bother? Well, aside from my fondness for clothes, it can often set or certainly sartorially empower me for the day. I feel good, manly, ready for bumping into random strangers and demolishing some good coffee and food.
I used to think maybe I was masking some insecurity by “making the effort” but as my understanding of myself continues into my forties, I have realised I simply enjoy wearing what I consider good clothing (can dressing oneself be a hobby?) and getting wear out of it. So in answer to my earlier question; I do it for my own happiness. Simple really.
In the workplace
The saying goes that we “should dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.” There is an element of truth here as far as dressing for work is concerned. There has been a slight decrease in work formality with dress codes recently, but in my line of work, that has in practice only extended to losing the tie and leaving the rest of the unofficial uniform firmly intact. It has not exactly been a paradigm shift.
Rather than a progressive move, I consider losing ties as a regressive one for the working men like me. It leaves a herd of tie-less men looking all somewhat similar, as there are only a very limited number of shirt and trouser colours deemed suitable for the workplace.
I understand that a tie takes extra time in the morning, gets dirty, then needs to be drycleaned and can simply get in the way sometimes, but I like wearing a tie. I am by no means a tie knot afficionado, but it makes me feel like my working day is here and it most definitely makes me more professional in my approach to work. There are also some great ties out there from Italy and England in particular that add a certain something to the 9-5 or in my case 9-7 rig out.
A tie is one of the few ways a man can display stylish individuality in the workplace. It does not have to make a statement, it just improves a suit or smart trousers by complementing them. A blue or a plain white shirt often need a tie to carry them along.
I do not buy into the “I am not wearing a tie, therefore I am more approachable” ruse. I’ll be the guy in the tie, as I am keeping mine firmly around my collar for now.
A 2012 study coined the term “enclothed cognition” where participants were all given lab coats. Half were told they were wearing “doctors coats” and the second half were told they were wearing “artists’smocks.” The attention to detail the “doctors” gave to there tasks was much higher than the “painters”. While not disparaging painters, it did show that clothing and the perceived role affects the mindset, especially in a professional environment. I feel the same way.
I wonder if there will be a similar study run with ties at any stage?
PS- If your clothes do not make you feel good, then get some different ones. Whatever your age, shape or size the answer to any style woes is out there. Try Instagram, no I am not joking, it’s not all beach babes and guys in white suits stepping out of Mercs. I have come across some great clothes and menswear websites through Instagram. Use some hashtags to narrow down your search.
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