I realize that my current style is probably “older than I think I am.” But I’ve been thinking a lot about the clothes I wear to work, to casual events, etc.
After all the years I spent in politics and a decade in D.C., I know the corporate/political uniform. In my early days as campaign staff I once showed up to an event where multiple pre-primary candidates were speaking. I stood in the back with the other advance guys. As I looked around I realized that all five of us were wearing a grey pin-stripe suit, white shirt and red tie. Our mommies couldn’t have planned it better.
But see, I’ve got this artsy side to me. So when we lived in D.C., I shopped a Nordstrom far more often than I should have. But it was the 80s and I was stylish. At least I thought I was. I had the requisite dark suits. But for summer I had the seersucker and bowties. And in those days I could still tie a bowtie. Now, the only bowtie I have is for my tux and more often than not I get frustrated and just go back to the clip on.
Moving to Richmond where I got older and wider (that’s not a typo), I started out in the political job with the suit. But now that I’ve settled in as a state employee by day and an internet vigilante by night my wardrobe has become more casual.
I no longer have to wear a tie every day. That’s a good thing because I no longer have a closet full of suits and shirts. I can dress up on the occasion that I need to. Weddings, funerals and important meetings. But it’s not an everyday thing.
I know that the old adage is to “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
Thing is, I want to be a freelance writer working from home. I see my days as going for a swim, heading to a coffee shop to catch up on email and reading, then heading home to write through the afternoon. Not many suits required there.
Still, in building this writing career, I have the occasional meeting with clients. I’ve got one coming up with a fairly conservative group. Here I am with the spikey hair I’m too old for and wearing more jewelry than most business men would wear.
Do I go for the artsy writer in khakis and a blazer? Or do I unbedazzle myself and put on the suit and tie?
For the most part, I’ve had no problem dressing for the occasion, and I suspect I will for this meeting. But is that not being true to who I really am? I don’t want to lose a client because I’m not willing to comb my hair.
Reality is that I’m not like Steve Jobs. I don’t have a closet full of black turtlenecks and I couldn’t carry it off if I did. And I’m not going to be the hip, young social media guru.
What I want to be is a respected, well published writer. I think I can be that.
And to get there, I’m willing to comb my hair.