The current dress code for teachers at my school is clean trousers and a polo shirt. So I’m often asked, “Why do you wear a suit every day?”
The beginning of any path is fraught with the mistakes of inexperience and fear of utter failure. Luckily, it’s always with the guidance of few mentors that we can catch our breath, rest assured that we have not made a terrible career choice.
I began the life of teaching ten years ago, not three months removed from my last undergraduate lecture. Sitting in a ninth grade class as the teaching assistant, I quickly made an impression with my casual knowledge of Pokémon and boyish face blending in with the student population. Sure, a youthful disposition made it easy to connect with and motivate freshmen. It also came to a fault when I led a study group, where a visiting teacher approached me, asked what we were reviewing, and applauded me for being more mature than my classmates. I’ve rarely entered a classroom without a tie ever since.
The lesson here: what you wear does matter. And not because this writer or the magazine he writes for cares about throwing Italian terminologies into conversation – though spalla camicia sounds as beautiful as it looks. Clothing matters to us because it indicates action and perception.
Before we get too far into the style du jour, clothing at the basic level is a garment of occasion. In your closet, you make sure your interview suit is well-pressed, and hope the next day you have to dry clean your funeral suit is far and away. The shirt, the links, the square, the tie. The ritual of assembling these parts of the whole readies you for the moment at hand, and shows others your respect for it.
So, why do I wear a suit every day?
Whenever I’m asked, I’ll tell you what a mentor told me eight years ago, in between classes. His answer was as routine as his tie and pocket square combination.
“Why? Because I’m meeting with very important people today.”