in Life

The work uniform

After high school, I spent four years enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. As a result, I didn’t really have to think about what to wear to work for those four years. I remember getting out and thinking about how it was going to be interesting to actually think about what clothes to wear every day.

A decade or so later, I am very deliberate about what I wear. This happened progressively over time and not for any particular reason, other than I like to look nice. Sites like pinterest have helped me make sense of what works and what doesn’t work. But whenever I see someone else talking about a “work uniform” and a desire to take the guess work out of what they’re going to wear, I just can’t fathom it.

For years I lived in Wyoming, where wearing jeans with a buttoned up shirt for a guy could be considered “dressed up.” So I never felt much of a compulsion to spend any time focusing on what I was wearing. I also felt self-conscious for a long time about dressing too nicely. I felt that being black in a state with few black people made me stand out as-is, so the last thing I needed to do was show up to public events appearing overdressed. A few years ago, this all changed for me. I’m not sure what made me change my mind, I just know that I started wearing ties twice a week. I think my logic was “eventually I’m going to live somewhere else and this kind of thing won’t be optional or rare. I should prepare for that reality.” What happened when I started dressing up? Other people started following my lead or at least, felt the need to comment. After a few months of doing “Tie Tuesday or Tie Thursday,” people would remember what day of the week it was because of my habitual tie habit. It was fun for me and led me to take things a step further.

These days, my sartorial inclinations have extended well beyond my work. I am not exactly painstaking about how I dress, I just put more time into than I ever did before. We’re talking a few minutes, not hours. The end result is a more confident me. I leave the house feeling like I’m prepared for whatever the moment is. Maybe I should just feel that way anyway, but the effort invested in changing clothes provides the mental shift I need to take that next step.