Cut From The Same Cloth

Every closest has a deepest darkest recess. Yesterday I ventured into mine. Not lightly, but it had to be done.

This was not a cleaning or clearing expedition, it was in fact a hunt borne out of a little desperation.

Only a little, mind you.

I decided I was going to wear a proper suit to work.

Now, I work in an office and have been wearing tailored gear, so it’s not as if I haven’t been dressing up. It’s just that what it means to be a professional has changed for me. At some point I reached that zone where being good at what I do is less about convincing others that I am and more about projecting my self-worth and confidence in knowing I am good at what I do. This is not hubris or arrogance, I know there are ways I can do better and I consciously put myself in positions where I have to learn every day. It’s just self belief. Guys tend to be quite good at it. Women, not so much, we tend to only put ourselves out there when we have ticked every box. Guys maybe tick one box or tend to have a go when they think they could tick at least one box if given the opportunity. There are masses of women’s publications devoted to this very topic trying to nudge women to move away from perfection.

Whatever you want to call it, self belief was a lesson that took me 40+ years to learn.

And with it came a wardrobe (and job) change.

Now my work wardrobe reflects who I am. Whilst I have never been tempted to pull out the little pink sequined number with purple Doc Martins ahead of a business meeting, manly because I don’t own any of these, I have given myself permission to move away from the classic suit. It has been quite the liberation.

One small step for mankind, a huge leap for the Curtain Raiser!

But back to the bowels of my closet and suit day. I’m not sure why the reason for the suit, there was no high powered meeting or function. I just felt like it, and that’s a revelation in itself.

Hey pal, how many of those grey numbers do you have?

Hey pal, how many of those grey numbers do you have?

So I gingerly approached my closet’s bowels and starting pulling out suit options. First one, then another and then another trying to figure out which one would work. I hadn’t laid eyes on these for a couple of years, so there was a short period of reacquainting and reminiscence.  And as I began laying them out in a row, a pattern began to emerge.

It hit me like a plank to the side of the head. These suits that I faithfully wore over the last decade were all the same. Oh, there might be slight variations in style as in pants versus skirts or charcoal grey versus navy, but they we all made of dark fabric and had pinstripes.

There laid out before me was evidence of my blind conformity. All in all, was I just another brick in the wall? (With apologies to Pink Floyd)

Gaaaah!

It’s amazing how the myriad of little decisions we make everyday weave together to make the tapestry of our lives. Any one of these decisions in isolation probably has little consequence, but put together and laid out like this, it’s a page in the book of your life. A page I have firmly decided to turn.

It was heartening to see in those suits confirmation that I had moved forward.

Speaking of moving forward, time to head to my closet and then to work. Uniforms need not apply.

 

To my regular readers: My sincere apologies for not yet posting about my travels. I have had a few technical glitches with photos. Will hopefully get to it soon.

 

About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

19 thoughts on “Cut From The Same Cloth

  1. I don’t miss that uniform “the suit” at all. Especially panty hose which I wore back in the day!

    You are so right about most men and women – they ask for more believing they can learn what they need “on the fly”. We women need to know how to do something before we ask for that responsibility. AND even worse, we expect to be rewarded with salary bumps and bonuses if we’ve done a good job WITHOUT HAVING TO ASK FOR THEM. Our boss “should just know.” Men ask anytime they feel like it!

    • Don’t get me started about pantyhose. If you discover the road to getting more than 3 days wear out of a pair before they ladder, let me know. Maybe if men wore pantyhose, they’d be more like women, then again, scratch that idea, they’d probably invent a paid that washed itself and didn’t ladder.

      • I don’t remember “runs” as much as how hot they made me and how they never fit properly around my bum & crotch!! I was lucky, however, that I eventually found my dream career with a small firm and could dress more creatively, so I ditched heels, pantyhose and suits altogether in favor of trendy pants and long skirts.

        I don’t know WHO designs/makes women’s clothing but NOTHING EVER fits my bottom half!!

  2. I think I have always tried to stay away from positions that might require a suit or costume as far as possible. I would go as far as saying I prefer those jobs that actually require you not to wear a suit.

    A former colleague in (technical) consulting has once told me this anecdote of his: He had an appointment with a new client and cautiously had picked a suit. The technical guys he was going to work with saw him and said: “Oh, there was perhaps some misunderstanding – we expected a technical expert!” He replied: “Sorry, I am obviously over-dressed”, then took off coat and tie and started working.

    • That’s a great anecdote. Clearly, the tech guys have a different idea of dressing to impress :). I don’t mind wearing a suit per se, I am just disappointed in myself that I didn’t see the lack of variety or individuality in my choices. Better late than never though, right?

  3. I don’t have much in the way of suits. I’ve always been a slacks and sweater sort of gal, and luckily in my jobs, that’s always been acceptable. Fancy, I’m not…

  4. I can relate to this in so many ways. It’s time to break free and add some bright colorful accessories to those suits. Those suits represent how I was living my life for way too long and guess what … accessories rock, no matter when you decided to add them to your wardrobe of life.

  5. Conformity can be depressing. For so long, men had it easy in work fashion. The suits varied only in color, so the major choice was shirt color and tie. Then you find yourself wearing the same tie with the same color of shirt, so you spiral into a personal conformity. Now, with business casual, we men have too many choices. Women have never had it easy with the annual and seasonal change in fashions requiring you to empty your pocketbook every year.

    • Yes, men have had it made in the shade and I guess in some ways I adopted the same approach to my work wardrobe. It’s not the suit per se, it’s the uniformity of my choices and lack of personalisation that stuck me. I hadn’t even realised.

      Business attire is generally getting more casual, none of the guys in my office wear a tie anymore unless necessary for a high powered external meeting. That would have been unheard of when I first started.

  6. I can relate. The power suit is so over! Don’t you think we are getting a a lot more relaxed in our dress even in the workplace?
    Hmm. I got rid of all my suits when I retired. 🙂 I still like my high heels though.

    • Yes, I agree Tess, work wardrobes are getting more relaxed. I think we are losing formality generally in business. In some ways that’s a great thing, in other perhaps less so. I can’t remember the last time I received a business emails with the salutation “Dear Judy”. Now that connotes something romantic. Instead no salutation or simple “Hi”.

      • I liked it better when one knew Dear Judy meant Hello and a power suite meant, I’m a professional. The lines have become more blurred now and I wonder, does it have much to do with the younger, new workforce? I’ve been out of if for almost eight years and don’t care to keep up with it.

        As well, we as a ‘nation” seem to be more relaxed dress-wise. I hadn’t noticed until my (hosted) ESL student made derogatory remarks about what they saw as bad dressers in public. 😀

  7. I tend to wear for the day not really what I feel like wearing but what’s available. It’s time to do some shopping for some variety ’cause I’m starting to get sick just looking at the clothes I have!

    That said, I hate uniforms. I’ve heard it said somewhere that it’s for equality or whatever (I honestly can’t remember the word that was used…could be equalizer…?), but it’s not like it’s going to change anyone’s financial status just by wearing a uniform — one still has more in life, another doesn’t. Of course, I understand the need for it in some institutions. In some, no. Thankfully, it’s not a requirement where I work.

    • There was no enforced uniform where I worked, but I had forced one on myself. I hope you don’t get to that stage in your work wardrobe. Long live individuality and imagination!

  8. Now it is time to hear about your holiday wardrobe and all the exciting adventures it went through during your travels in Europe 😉

  9. Very well said. 🙂
    I wonder if women will ever get to the point where they can ‘fake it until they make it’ the same way that men seem able to do so easily.

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