The change in seasons in New York City has begun, and with it a change in my wardrobe. I can now, comfortably, dress myself each morning in a sportcoat or blazer, and with it, tie a tie around my neck. It’s how I would prefer to dress all year round, but the humidity of New York summers, and the brutality of non air conditioned subway platforms make it likely that I will only end up a sweaty mess by the time I arrive at work. So, I wait for autumn, and its cool breezes to bust out the finery, where it stays until summer rears its fiery head again.
I’m an odd one out in my office, at least among the non-executives, with my wardrobe. Many are content to wear polo shirts and khakis, or t-shirts and jeans. A hoodie or casual jacket is added as the weather turns. I’m sure they’re happy and comfortable in their dress, as I am in mine. I don’t dress to impress, for the most part. I dress for defense. I dress to defend against myself, and keep myself from slipping into laziness, into complacency. I sometimes call my favorite outfit: a white Oxford Cloth button down shirt, knit tie, dark gray wool sportcoat, black pants, and black captoe oxford shoes, my “responsible adult costume.” It’s more a superhero costume. Putting it on makes me feel like a responsible adult.
My outfit gives me super powers. Dressed up, I have the powers of confidence, of dependability and trust, of good first impressions. Plus, I look great. As long as I wear my jacket and tie, I feel like I can accomplish any task, surmount any hurdle, and deal with any unforeseen circumstance. Put a cup of hot coffee in my hand, and I become invincible. A set of clothes that look good and feel good have the power to change how you feel about yourself. Whatever misfortune, whatever woe has befallen you, you can look in any mirror and say, “at least I still look like I have it together.” For a lot of people out there, looking like you have it together is enough to make them think you really do.
When I look in the mirror and see myself in my jacket and tie, or when I look down to see my shined shoes, it’s enough to change how I feel. I don’t dress for anyone, except myself. Because I’m the person for whom dressing well and looking good will have the most impact. I feel like I have it all together, and if I don’t, I just need to adjust my tie, re-tuck my shirt, and run a comb through my hair for my powers to come back. And, perhaps one day, I’ll overcome my Kryptonite of the summer sun.