Thursday, October 04, 2007

Keeping Up Appearances

Today I am wearing a shirt and tie. It is not simply random. I am meeting various people who know who I am (so no dog collar necessary) but for whom, in my judgement, looking smart is important. It's a hygiene factor, if you like management speak. The tie won't get me a better hearing but its absence would get me a worse one. Anyway I like ties.

Thing is, someone will inevitably say, 'You do look smart' today. In fact writing that just made it more likely. They will say it in a kindly way but I will find it had not to hear, 'You don't usually look smart.'

I wear a dog collar two or three times a week. Someone will always say, 'I don't think I've seen you dressed in 'the gear' before.' Again (is this a critical parent reaction, maybe?) I will try not to hear, 'I don't think I've seen you dressed properly before.'

Those of us who vary our dress invite this sort of thing. I went through a period of wearing black all the time. Black is cool; other colours struggle. No-one said anything. If you want people to say nothing about your appearance, wear the same clothes every day. Have seven identical outfits. Mrs T has five and does her best with a black, faded polo shirt and black trousers and black fleece and black boots and all I see are the pleasant curves and red lips.

I went through a period of wearing clean and ironed clothes with a matching handkerchief in a parish where the clerical dress of choice was a fleece with food down it (in their defence the guys had young children).

So, what do you look like? Tell not show. This isn't Facebook.

5 comments:

Chemical said...

To set this in context, I first need to explain that I work as a substitute teacher.

I collected my kids from school one day this week wearing a pair of black woollen trousers, a white shirt and a diamond patterned sleevless jumper (or tanktop as we used to call them!)

Kids stopped dead in the playground and eldest shouts across 'Were you working today Mummy?'

I obviously wear my jeans WAY too much

Kathryn said...

Usual ageing hippie mix of clergy shirt, Bishopston fair trade trousers and "white stuff" top. And my flowery doc martens, of course.
And I wonder why the elderly congregation treat me like an enfant terrible!!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear! Did I say "You look smart" after you had written that? I think what I really meant was that you looked different to usual, but it wasn't meant to be a value judgement. I think you have a range of different looks which are all acceptable. I think what I meant was "I don't usually see you in the conventional jacket and tie look." - But then purple isn't conventional for that look. (Is it?.)
Enough, or I'll dig myself in deep.
Pauline

Hannah said...

I too have recently noticed this. I always used to wear my hair down to work and nobody ever commented, then I tied it up to go to work and everyone said oohh your hair looks lovely up. Then today I wore it down for the first time in ages and lots of people said you really suit having your hair down!!! Bizarre!!

Mr Gnome and Mr Keegan said...

The clerical fleece?

Where could you have come across that?

: - )