In the airport, I saw the phrase ” Success means not wearing a suit”. It appeared on the top of a cloth shop. So when I saw this particular line in the airport I was intrigued. I noticed that I have ample time for a cuppa. So I grabbed one and there it was again. As I was scanning the environment that quote was striking from a distance and so I went and took a picture. Thanks to digital devices I could capture that image instantaneously else in the past I would search for my pen and write it on my small spiral notebooks. While sipping my black coffee in the shop from where I could still catch sight of that punch line, I made some mental notes of what that statement really meant. I was speaking to myself Quite a bit and that is when I decided to introspect and started piecing together incidents from my past on “Suits.” The attire and not the show. ( I’ve recently started watching the American legal comedy-drama Suits on Netflix and I am a big fan of the one-liners and I am enjoying it.)
According to a new study that analyzed the psychological effect dressing sharply has on people when the subjects dressed formally, they were more adept at abstract processing – which means that they are more likely to see the big picture rather than obsessing over minor details. They say the dress you wear can also alter the way you see the world ( No evidence for me so far!)
I recollect those early days when I struggled with ties and suits. One of my colleagues demonstrated around 10 times how to knot the ties. I had several tie rounds in front of him to give him the confidence to let me off the hook. In the case of Blazers and Suits, the biggest challenge was to decide on the colour, fit, style and cost.
It was in Europe that I found the importance of wearing suits and that made me quite comfortable with the attire. It is rare that on a weekday I do not wear a suit. Wearing a suit had given me a lot of feel-good moments. I was in the reception once for a meeting and I was not able to connect to a concerned person. A person walked towards me and asked me a couple of questions to check if he can help just because I was the only one wearing a suit there.
When wearing a suit I feel like Clark Kent transforming himself into Superman after he changes his costume. This wear had also made me walk into a couple of meetings instantaneously with an air of confidence. Call it phone -booth moments. The other day I was in the airport queue and a little baby too grabbed my suit and I had a good smile and I laughed out loud. I recollect how one of my friends took me to a tailor and taught me all the nuances of the Suit cuts and fits. That day I decided to reduce my weight so that I could go for a suit cut around the waist and that is what I did after 3 years. I got all my old suits reshaped as per my current body shape. So was a suit the motivator to look slim and get a slim fit? Maybe.
So why do I wear a suit every time I travel or go for a meeting?
I got habituated from 2010 after I returned back from Italy as it was very comforting except in extremely hot conditions. The wear also added a dash of confidence and also made me look at the mirror before going for any meeting. It is also the reason which made me look at the tummy from all angles and I decided to go lean, run, walk to reduce my belly fat. I recollect the day when I had to go to the tailor shop to further reduce my suit width as I had reduced my belly fat to good effect.
Suits have helped me to connect with executives at a deeper levels in the past. The modern lounge suit appeared in the late 19th century, but traces its origins to the simplified, sartorial standard of dress established by the English king Charles II in the 17th century. The modern suit design seems to be inspired by the utilitarian dressing of hunters and military officers. I had the opportunity to see and meet a lot of defence officers in my career and that was also one of the reasons that made me dress well and look good. I recollect in one of those establishments when you enter, there used to be a long mirror with a line “How are you dressed today?”. I found that very inspiring and every day when I step out for a meeting that line keeps playing in my head and it makes me look at how good I looked from the neck down. Call it dressing up for success.
The days when I am not wearing a suit are mostly weekends and holidays. To go a little bit deeper on success and suits, it rivals the whole notion of how one defines success. To me, it is about health , love , family and wealth. The best part of suits for me has been that it gives me so many options to carry along with you. Imagine these days if you have to carry your phone ( multifunctional device for multiple encounters). You use it to get inside the airport, you use the barcode for scanning and get your e ticket, you use the phone once gain to display your boarding pass at the security check , at the gate twice. You need a place outside you to keep it and take it out in all these encounters. You have sanitisers , extra and back up masks and in my case pens and papers ( for blogging ideas ). All the deep pockets in fact four of them I put it to good use for material deposits. In fact, last time when I was late for a meeting I rushed for the morning breakfast and noticed that it was getting closed. I reached out for that shinning apple and immediately placed in one of those deep pockets to have it later in the day. After all an apple a day in your suit pocket keeps me on the highway. So suits and pockets serve a utilitarian role in my business trips and I am thankful for making it convenient for me to reach out and display every time.
To me, the expert advice came from Hamlet Act 3 Scene 2 Page 1
Be not too tame either, but let your own discretion be your tutor. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature. For anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone or come tardy off, though it make the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of the which one must in your allowance o’erweigh a whole theatre of others.
I have learned one mantra in life and that is “ Action cures all“. I got encouragement from Harvey Spectre. There is only one thing which I have comprehended from suits and that is to develop that proclivity for hard work, smart work and long hours. Suit was a nice metaphor to look as a tool for situations. It has a utility. It gives you that extra piece of wear externally to carry you in the direction you wanted to go. It gives you the regency to act with your agency.
I was waiting for one of my colleagues in a coffee shop. He walks in and his first comment was , ” Where is your suit”? He was mentioning to me that he was seeing me for the first time without suit. I had kept my blazer by the side. Let me share my take on suits with my professional mantra “Dress in a suit so that you can address and progress on your pursuit“.
Now to the phrase “Success means not wearing a suit” I decided not to answer.