I have always been hideously self-conscious. I am an introvert who usually feels awkward, body-conscious, and out-of-place, in most social situations. Despite the old adage “the clothing makes the man,” a suit tends to just make me feel more uncomfortable and out of place. As I have been learning to be more vulnerable and open, that discomfort has begun to fade. It has also become less because I have become less through weight-loss and learning to accept my body, my choices, and the link between the two.
Why is this of note? Because this week at a professional conference that at one time I was a fixture, I chose to wear bright colors. A very bright pink blazer (technically red with a lot of white threading). I had doubts of my ability to really carry this off. I doubted whether I could feel anything but of out of place and conspicuous. The fact is, it worked though. It felt right and I heard a lot of compliments. It was also clearly me.
I often despair of the drab grayness of professional men. When tans and beige become daring fashion choices, what the hell does that mean for the ability to have any brightness or flamboyance in life? When Dogbert suggests that suits are made of wool to allow the wearer to fit in with the rest of the sheep, I totally get that. But having grown up listening to the soundtrack of Hair, particularly the song “My Conviction” the idea of bright colors appeals to me more and more. I know who I am these days, or at least I am getting there.
I have tried some variation of “business casual” a number of times. At this point, it is slacks and golf shirts. With my current weight-loss, I’ve taken advantage of the need for a new wardrobe to experiment a little. Likely, I can only take this so far in Richmond as Virginia government is still on the conservative side. But, two years ago, in a presentation to the members of the governor’s office, I did make the push to move away from the whole men-in-suits thing as it is a contributor to energy use. American office buildings are kept heavily air-conditioned because of men in wool suits. Think about it. It is something that can easily be changed, save for a culture that judges participants by their clothing and ability to fit in.
Anyhow, I see this episode as evidence that I am finally becoming more comfortable with myself. This is good. I feel the need to stand out these days in other ways than I have in the past. And I like color. I like splash. More importantly, I like to feel comfortable in my own skin. That’s progress.