Now, hey you Mister! can’t you read
You got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat
For a lot of men, a suit is a uniform. For me, it’s a costume. A uniform reinforces who you are; a costume makes you something you’re not. When I wear a suit for business, I’m a more gregarious, authoritative and serious version of myself. I’m Darren Barefoot, Suited Corporate Thinker.
Maybe because it’s a costume, I find wearing a suit a little transformative. The world responds to me differently. The suit is symbolic all things official and orderly, and so people tend to treat me accordingly. I get better service.
Maybe it’s because I have a BFA in Theatre instead of an MBA in Something Impressive, but my costume makes me act differently, too. In fact, it just makes me act a bit. I’m more inclined to request a particular table at a restaurant. I tip better. I feel…cavalier.
And yet, I also feel conflicted in a suit. All of a sudden, I am The Man–tall, broad-shouldered, tie-wearing, glass-wearing, Caucasian–I am The Man from NASA.
And I’m not sure I like me. In fact, I’d probably make fun of me, if I wasn’t, you know, me.
I’m rambling here, but I guess my point is a truism: the clothes do, to some degree, make the man.
On the stage, a relatively small costume change–a different hat or length of skirt–can have a significant impact on how the audience responds to a character.
This applies in real life, too. Women have known this since the first Cro-Magnon seamstress stitched together two saber tooth tiger hides. Men should catch up,
and be more aware of the impact of our clothing.