Monday, October 24, 2011

Dodgy Dress Code Dilemmas

I had to look up the spelling of "dilemma" for it's a word that has foxed me for some time. Well, the thing is that it hadn't foxed me, I always knew how to spell it. Every single time the need arose I'd whack it our effortlessly. And then I saw it written somewhere, no doubt by one of these proper writers, and realised that I'd been spelling it incorrectly all along. I'd been throwing in an "n" instead of the second "m". It's a good thing I don't make that kind of mistake elsewhere. Bumner though.

But it goes to show my newest mantra; what you don't know you don't know. It sounds like bollocks to many, but it's been accompanying me on a daily basis in recent weeks and it summarises that fact that many chaps, me included, can exist in a happy state of mind, not to be confused with an empire state of mind, in which we just assume we know things and do them correctly because we've never investigated whether they are correct and true.

I digress. To get back to my original point, the one I never started, I wanted to tell you a little story about a couple of dress code issues I've encountered lately, and to seek your advice, for you may know about these things.

My regular attire for work these days is pretty much what I'd wear at home. Not sarong mind, I mean jeans, trainers and casualish short. If I'm going to see a customer then I'll smarten myself up, with a suit and tie, though nowadays in London ties are becoming rarer than they used to be, even with a suit.

But, a couple of weeks ago I was due to go on a training course, just a half day thing. Being the dutiful employee I read the itinerary and figured out where to go beforehand, as well as checking what the dress code was.

"Business casual" read the dress code information. I stared at the screen for some time. Despite my stare the text didn't change, not one bit, not even a letter, into something that was less confusing to a man. Well, I say a man, I mean me. I figured that the term "business casual" to a woman would be quite straight forward. Just anything really, but not jeans and trainers and not a smart suit.

But for a man? WTF?

Clearly wearing a full business suit with a tie would be erring on the "too smart" side, but of course for a man "too smart" is never a problem in the way "too casual" might be. What if I wore a suit without a tie? It might still be too smart.

Okay, so then I considered the option of jeans with some leather shoes and shirt tucked in. That evening I even tried on some combinations but the shirt tucked in thing made me look like a wanker and the smart shoes with jeans bit made me feel like I was scratching my nails down a blackboard. Besides I only really have about three pairs of jeans that could be tagged as "smart" and none of them felt quite right.

Perhaps chinos and a shirt might do it, you're thinking? But chinos are really more for the summer months and it's quite chilly and autumnal here. Also I don't do that hooray Henry look very well, the American student, man at Gap look isn't my thing.

Hmmm.... what to do?

In the end I settled on the looking like a wanker look; the smart jeans, smart shoes and shirt tucked in. I took out the appropriates the night before, hung them out and even ironed the shirt.

The next morning I got ready. I strolled around my apartment for a bit, looking like a wanker. I couldn't get comfortable with the choice so switched to the suit with no tie option. Perhaps I'm old fashioned but a suit without a tie just doesn't hang right for me, it always feels as if the shirt collar is gaping and that I look like a pissed Uncle towards the end of a wedding reception. Still, I went with it.

I arrived at the course and met the others. The trainer was suited and booted as if he was about to do a modelling session for "Smart man in the city" magazine, in their special smart edition. That was okay for me, that's what these training types do.

There were only three others there. I remember all their names perfectly, that's one of the things we covered on the course, but I won't reveal them to you. There was one woman and she wore what can only think were her mother's clothes for when she goes to church. They were drab in the way that some women of a certain age think looks good. There was nothing wrong with them, nor was there anything right.

Then there were two chaps. One was German, so obviously lacking in any sense of sartorial style. He wore jeans, ironed with creases in them (for fuck's sake!!), some brown leather boots that would have been perfectly suitable for a long walk in the countryside and a black leather jacket that was seven sizes too small for him.

For the whole morning he kept the leather jacket on, leaving me to wonder if perhaps he had nothing on underneath or if the tightness of it was such that he'd need powder and a few friends to remove the thing.

The other guy was a middle aged Irishman and he did a good job of wearing the very British country casual look. Cord trousers, a thinly striped Oxford shirt and brogues seemed to give a decent illustration of the aforementioned "business casual".

It looked to me as if all of them, with the obvious exception of the trainer, had just worn what they felt like wearing. I even asked them if they'd been as confused as I was about the dress code. They mostly just looked at me as if I was a weirdo. It was okay, I'm used to that.

I sat through the morning's training, feeling overdressed but happy to be the one who was. I think I now know that "business casual" is really just wear what you fancy, unless you're German. Live and learn I say.

On top of all that, I've got a gig coming up with the covers band, quite a high profile sort of situ. It's a ball for some posh school, held at Wembley Stadium, though in one of the suites, not actually in the stadium, and there's a sit down dinner beforehand.

I got an email from one of the organisers the others day, asking for car registrations and generally stipulating in rather stern tones how we, the band, should behave and whatnot.

And the dress code. Which said: "Hollywood Glam".

Oh my giddy Aunt, what the hell is "Hollywood Glam"?



David Blacker said...

I'd say pull out that smart-suit-with-no-tie number again. Either that or go as a '80s porn director with a Zapata mousto and afro wig.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

DB - I think that might tick the "Hollywood" box but not the "Glam" one so much.

Scrumps said...

Forget Hollywood Glam - WTF is a "casualish short"?! ;)

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Apologies Scrumps, I did mean a "casualish shirt", something everyone can define easily!