Social change work is hard and frustrating and wonderful and terrible; it is also, at times, funny, quirky and just plain fascinating. With this blog we hope to capture all that goes into what we do at Capital Good Fund, and we invite you to join the conversation!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Challenge of Dressing For Success

Photo Credit: Averain
In the "adult world"--you know, that place where real business is transacted, big decisions are made,
important meetings held--your attire is essential.  Blazers, ties, slacks, wingtips, pantsuits, heels: these are the not-so-secret handshakes to enter that banal society whose only mission is to allow you to be taken seriously.  And don't get me wrong: I want to be taken seriously. After all, I run a nonprofit whose mission is to tackle poverty.  The problem is that I also want to be comfortable, both physically and, more deeply, with who I am.

So what does that problem have to do with clothing? You see, many years ago I decided to eschew driving in favor of making the bicycle my primary means of transportation; and although in the intervening years I eventually succumbed to pragmatism and purchased a car, I do my best to avoid using it.  The challenge is that it's hard to square bicycling to the office and to meetings--in the rain, the snow, the cold, the wind, the searing heat--with the world's demand for sartorial splendor.  Nice clothes get sweaty, get wet, get wrinkled and generally don't stand up well to anything beyond the carefully climate-controlled environment of the cubicle.

I know, it's a silly thing: why not just put on a damn suit and tie, especially if it means I an more likely to raise funds?  One answer is that I've been stubborn about it.  Another is that a part of me wants to rebel (in an extaordinarily insignifcant way), to insist upon my ethos.

The Suit and Tie
I bring all this up because the other day I had to wear a suit and tie for a lunch meeting.  As expected, I was rather uncomfortable: it was extremely hot, the tie was strangling me and for whatever reason whenever I tuck in my shirt my back starts hurting (yea, yea, it sounds ridiculous...but it's true  I feel like I shouldn't move lest the damn thing come untucked).  But what I didn't expect was the sense of power that came over me, as though I were saying "Yes, now I am a serious man, a man about town, a man who gets shit done!"

My conclusion?  It's time to buy a nice suit, one that doesn't make me look, to quote Rachel Wall, our Head Financial Coach, "like a sailor."  Still, don't expect me to make friends with the local haberdasher. Whenever possible, I will choose to be pragmatic and will always ask, when shopping for clothes (on the rare ocassions that I do), "Do these pants have a gossetted crotch?  How will this shirt feel when cycling?"

Oh, and I couldn't resist mocking myself for wearing a tie (something I haven't done in years); in the photo above I am playing the role of the the jester whose buffonnery questions the world around him even as he acknowledges his own absurdity.

1 comment:

  1. As cliche as it may be, it's proven that what you pull from your closet every morning, may set the tone in your demeanor throughout the day. There is physiological research, thread counts, and fashion guidelines all supporting this revelation. The suit and tie is but a reflection of the man standing in it. I say welcome change, welcome finding a suit that is truly Andy, pay attention to the details, and maybe even find a batman tie for when you feel rebellious and astray from your internal roots. Then you may actually love it. Capitalize on that confidence, respect and power that comes from dressing the part.