Schlub-wear is comfy, but maybe put on a suit now and then.
If you wear a suit while traveling it sends a positive signal. The various agents sense it. In the US and especially ovrseas.
Paul Graham, the startup entrepreneur and accomplished essayist, said that if you wear a suit in Silicon Valley people will think you're a doorman.
But there's a difference between being casual and being Fetterman-level in-your-face slobby.
I wear a coat and tie every day I teach (college). I feel (and dress) like I belong at the front of the room and students know I do. But I engage with them comfortably in class and out of class, teach them how to think and write, and show what it means to be a grown-up. Many of my students want to go to law school, and I want to model adult dress and deportment to my students.
I wore a suit when I accompanied my daughter to Federal Court when she got a reckless driving speeding ticket on base. Not that I am a lawyer, but my dad, who was, advised it was a good idea to show up to court In a suit. In the pretrial consultation with the government, the defendants with lawyers, and my daughter who didn't have one, but who had a stern looking man in a suit standing behind her, got their charges reduced. The schlubs who showed up looking like they had rolled Fetterman for something to wear and did not have a lawyer, got hammered. Coincidence? I think not.
As a constituent of the Giant Walking Rhubarb, I intend to call his office next week and complain about his slovenly attire. He’s just disgusting to look at and a disgrace to the institution.
For sure, "we can live without panache, and mystique" -- but why in the blue blazes would we want to?! It just mystifies me. Life is way wider than that.
I wear suits because I like them. Normally, it's a sports coat, dress slacks or khakis, and a vest over a dress shirt. That alone makes me stand out. But about once a week, it's a suit. I find I wear the suits more and more because they look good and they make an old man feel good. And yes, women do like them. I got more compliments on wearing a white suit this summer from women to more than make the teasing from my slovenly male coworkers worth it.
And they lied anyway. I'm more taller and thinner than Col. Sanders.
Still missing a key component about the whole Fetterman thing... Why is he doing this? Every single article jumps to whether it's right or not - but I've yet to see an explanation as to why he's doing it.
Appealing to the common man? Incapable of dressing himself? Cheap attention whore? Nobody, beyond unproven speculation, has put forth a reasonable explanation as to why the hell is he doing this.
Which only raises my suspicions even more that all is not as it would seem - or as it's "reported".
At the company where I worked back in the 90s to about 2010, it was expected that the (male) salaried employees, which included us engineers, wore dress slacks, shirts, and ties, and jackets if there were visitors. Excepting casual Fridays of course. At conferences, definitely suits or at least sport jackets and ties.
I don’t miss those days. I seldom wear a suit now.
I have two big dislikes about modern styles of suits.
1. They’re too tight. Most guys wearing tight-fitting suits look like they’re wearing their high school graduation suit. A suit should have breathing room and not bind up as you move.
2. Short trouser lengths. Same thing. Pant legs with zero break look make the wearer look like he outgrew his high school suit. I like a full break, and no cuff. Cuffed pants make the wearer look like he’s wearing his grandfather’s suit.
Oh - one other thing. There’s a great YouTube video of David Byrne from Talking Heads picking up an item from the dry cleaner’s. It’s worth searching for.
. . . and then in early 2020 came the Pandemic. And even those who had previously taken some pride in their clothes and attire spent 12-30 months living in sweatpants and comfy-wear. Of course people are coming out of that bunker mentality now, but many of them will have to “relearn” how to dress nicely.[*] Today’s essay is a good nudge in that direction.
[*] I’ve read that a number of business people have had to “relearn” how to do business lunches — everything from knowing which utensils to use to the proper way to engage in small talk and then more serious face-to-face talk.
How long until our military wears Schlub-wear?
I am a physician and I quit wearing a tie to the office years ago when it became contaminated with bloody pus after examining an ICU patient. It became clothing that could transmit disease, sort of. And then covid came and scrubs became fashionable, even in the office setting. Everyone in my practice wears scrubs or “covid casual”- usually slacks and dress shirt or polo with white coat but no tie. Suits and sport coats have become much more comfortable as I get older. If you don’t mind it pre worn E Bay is a good source to find good deals on fine clothing.
I wear a suit every day, even though I don't have to do so, because I can and because it makes me feel good and do better work, and because "every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man." I feel sorry for men who have to wear "business casual"--whatever that means. Khakis and a polo shirt--that's what my kid wore to the first grade. Tsk. No thanks.
For the last few months I've thought that I should drop you a line thanking you for Instapundit and more recently your Substack articles, to which I'm happy to subscribe. Your article on suits, especially the sections dealing with attire and teaching at University made me think of a few items that might interest you.
I had the good fortune to have two great University teachers in the mid1970s: Allan Bloom and Walter Berns. They had escaped Cornell and ended up at University of Toronto. Both wore suits, which even at the time put them in a slight minority of profs.
Berns’s suits were nothing special. Well worn prof attire. He smoked about 3 cigarettes in a 50 minute US Con Law class. Bloom’s were very stylish. At the time he chain smoked cigars through the entire class.
Bloom explicitly addressed attire in a lecture on The Prince. 'Lecture’ is a bit of a misnomer because his lectures were more of a question and answer format, something like this– the context is a large lecture hall, about 300 students:
Bloom: Has anyone here read a book that changed their life?
No one puts up there hand
Bloom: Why don't young people read?
A variety of students answer: TV, better things to do, bad public school etc
Bloom: yeah. All those are ok answers but miss the fundamental point which is that young people don't read because they don't think they will learn anything that will improve there life. And why is that?
Student: because there's nothing in book's worth knowing
Bloom: Right! We Moderns believe we know everything worth knowing. But we need to think that through. Are you smarter than Machiavelli? Probably not. He says his most important possession is what he learned from reading. Maybe if you're smarter than Machiavelli you don't need to read, but if you're not your missing something.
There's a very famous letter written by Machiavelli describing how before he goes into his library to read great books he washes and puts on fine clothing.
Why is that?
No answer. (Also, no one had read this very famous letter that he referred to.)
Bloom: because when you are doing something important you dress up! You dress up for your wedding, for the funeral of loved ones and if you're Machiavelli for reading and conversing with the greatest thinkers.
He then went onto something else.
I think that's one reason why he dressed in fine suits–he wanted to convey that what was happening in the class was really important.
To your point that dressing down a bit generates more of a connection with students, I think in part his answer was in the way he addressed students and the way we were to address him: there was equality in nomenclature- there were no titles. The students were Mr or Miss or Mrs (and later the simpler Ms) and he was Mr Bloom. Never a first name for the students and never a Professor or Dr. for Bloom.
The same applied in Berns’s class.
Later, I learned that way of addressing students and the prof was the protocol in Leo Strauss’s classrooms.
This connects with your observation that women like suits. As you point out periodically on Instapundit, there is a thesis that as a general rule women are hypergamy. A suit sends the message that the guy thinks he's doing something important and the hypergamy thesis would say that women are attracted to that.
A couple of other points. All my references to suits assume a collared shirt with a tie. No T shirts and no bow ties
Tuxedos are an entirely different question. Yesterday, in anticipation of my daughter's wedding next month I pulled out my 2 tuxes. One is my marriage tux and the other, more recent is about 20 years old. The newer one still fits but its baggy pants and longish jacket are woefully dated. That said, wearing an out of style tux tells everyone you actually own it and that it’s not a rental. But it is my only daughter's wedding so I should be in style. I hadn't resolved this mental debate this morning, so when I read your article, I thought I really should send you this note.
My friend worked on Mad Men occasionally and said that when the scruffy boys emerged from costume and hair department looking like Don Draper, the girls just stared in wonderment, hit by the thunderbolt by this new masculine comeliness.
Note well, men: if you want to impress a woman, wear a nice suit.
My only suit is a Grey nautica I got 20 years ago. I call it my all purpose wedding/ funeral/ cruise formal night suit. But in the last few years I've noticed that I'm about the only guy wearing one to the wedding or funeral. The most recent funeral, I packed khakis and a dress shirt, and still felt a bit overdressed. But I have noticed that I get treated better when I'm better dressed. Also attract more attention from panhandlers. So I am upgrading my wardrobe to better quality clothing now that I'm retired. And if I keep losing weight, there's a navy blue suit in my future.