Getting dressed in the morning is a philosophical, mindful process each day. Although I choose the garments before bedtime the previous night, I still scrutinize my choices as I put them on in the morning. Even though I no longer work in the conventional sense, I prefer to dress in business casual attire before doing anything else.
There are at least a few reasons for doing so. First, I feel “put together”. Second, I feel mentally primed to write this blog. Third, I’m ready to run errands later in the morning. Fourth, I have more polo shirts and nice sweaters than necessary–so I want to get my money’s worth. If the agenda calls for home repairs or yardwork, I change afterwards from a business outfit into grubby jeans, an old tee-shirt, and scuffed shoes.
Last week, a pair of Mormon missionaries made a surprise (to me) appearance at the front door. As is customary, I invited them inside so they could give me their sales pitch in comfort. After they had finished their discussion, out of curiosity, I asked why the missionaries always dress in white shirts, dark slacks, and wear a necktie. The youngest man in the pair answered that they are representatives of their church and should behave and look in a manner that inspires respect and trust.
They are asked to keep their clothing neat and in good repair and be mindful of their hygiene and grooming habits. The men are supposed to keep their haircuts conservative and above the collar. They are also not to grow facial hair. The women are encouraged to choose conservative, easily maintained hairstyles and not wear “garish” makeup. In a nutshell, the missionaries dress with a purpose in mind. Their style, colors, and types of accessories are used in proportion so as to promote their goals and objectives both outwardly and inwardly.
After the two missionaries departed, I reflected about how their mode of dressing helped promote positive feelings and put me at ease. Whomever created the church’s dress-code was wise and understood human psychology. You might say that person or committee believed in the old proverb, “Dress for success”.
I briefly recalled the last wedding I attended and how people dressed. By and large, the women dressed reasonably stylish in the current fashion. However, the men’s attire was a mixed bag. The older men and the preacher were dressed in business suits. The younger men wore casual jeans or khakis along with polo or casual button-down shirts. Some younger men wore graphic tees with torn jeans and sneakers. Of course, the wedding party itself was dressed in formal wear; with the bride dressed to the nines in a gorgeous white gown.
I reflected that for the most part, our dressing standards appear to have become more disheveled looking. Although women in Nebraska have a plethora of women’s clothing shops to choose from, many towns do not have even a single men’s clothing store at all. We are relegated to Target or Walmart. If we want to buy a business suit, J.C. Penney’s is the only store within a 100-mile radius from which to choose. If a man wants a quality, tailored suit, the closest menswear stores are in Sioux City, Iowa. We could travel much further for premium mens clothing to Omaha or Lincoln, Nebraska.
Our town used to have at least two premium men’s clothing stores and many smaller towns also sported at least one on their Main streets. Unfortunately, dressing standards devolved towards business casual along with jeans and tee-shirts. Since most men no longer favor suits and fine clothing, exclusive men’s clothing stores suffer a lack of customers.
I recollect that mainly the only men I see dressed in suits in Nebraska, are business executives, funeral directors, and Mormon missionaries. On the closing day, when I bought my house, my banker was decked out in a fashionable suit and tastefully chosen accessories. On the same day, I wore dress slacks, and a white shirt with a necktie. My outerwear was my best winter jacket.
As I tap out these words, I wish that men’s dress fashion would make at least a modest comeback. It doesn’t need to be expensive nor flashy. Just mindfully selected and thoughtfully worn. Men don’t need to dress like Mormon missionaries, but we can try harder to have the right approach. Anyway, a person who pays attention to his/her wardrobe is a sight for sore eyes. We do judge people on outward appearances. There is truth to the saying, “Dress for success”.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes coach, counseling psychologist, entrepreneur, model, and writer, Utibe Samuel Mbom. “Speak fluently. Dress neatly. Move swiftly.”