Recently, I was returning from vacation and going through customs when I got the inspiration to write this post. The customs agent asked me the normal questions (what was the purpose of your trip, how long were you gone, etc.), and then she paused and looked me up and down. “What do you do for a living?” she asked. I told her I was a pharmacist. Then, in a tone that implied she was some sort of omniscient being and I was clearly an idiot, she said, “Pharmacists don’t wear suits”. The only thought going through my head was “excuse me?” I couldn’t even piece together a response. I literally had no words (and I surely did not want to be held up at that moment by a customs officer). We stared at each other silently for about 10 seconds and then she returned my passport and waved me through. I may not have had any words at that moment, but I have since found plenty.
I initially laughed at my idea of becoming a modern-day Mr. Rogers by wearing a suit to work every day, removing the jacket when I arrive and replacing it with my white coat. But now I am actually seriously considering it. I actually posed the question to one of my style idols, Simon Crompton of Permanent Style, and he suggested that I do it. Being what people consider “into fashion” usually results in being stigmatized by your coworkers, which in turn produces a myriad of unsolicited comments about your wardrobe choices. Unfortunately, I have been on the receiving end of these remarks for quite some time. In the past, I have even tried to dress similar to my coworkers to avoid the awkwardness, but for various reasons that I won’t get into now, that proved to be a mistake.
This recent post that Simon wrote over at Permanent Style really resonated with me. I commented there that I don’t feel completely dressed without a jacket (something I have been saying for ages), and reading this post and the comments from his readers really helped me to realize I am not alone in feeling this way. Moreover, there is just something about wearing a suit that makes me feel good. I feel more confident, more poised, and ready to conquer the day. I remember feeling quite the opposite when I was working for Target and forced to leave the house in red and khaki. The feeling I get when wearing a suit along with receiving confirmation from one of the most influential men in classic menswear today should be reason enough for me to start, but unfortunately, there are still a few logistical issues that stand in my way (I discuss them in this post).
Recently, I decided I might as well wear exactly what I want because circumstances aren’t likely to change anytime soon. In fact, I believe that things will most likely get worse as workplaces continue to become more and more casual. I have learned to pretty much disregard any and all comments from those that don’t appreciate dressing well. Generally, I get lots of compliments but I also hear a lot of “Why are you always so dressed up?” or “You know you don’t have to be so formally dressed here” and“Do you realize the dress code is business casual?”
I have found ways to wear suits more often (discussed here) and I am always looking for more opportunities. Eventually, I may actually just start wearing them every day despite my reservations.
Oh, and just in case that random customs agent is reading this: PHARMACISTS DO WEAR SUITS, as evidenced by the fact that I am a pharmacist, and I was wearing a suit while standing directly in front of you!