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I’ve been told on occasion I clean up well. That usually means a person is so surprised to see me wearing a dress shirt and/or tie they have no control over projectile vomiting that nonsense phrase in my direction. What does that even mean? Is it an implication that I go through life “unclean” most of the time? Does it assert that I forgo washing my shorts and t-shirts regularly, in favor of simply pulling them out of the pile and Febreze-ing them for re-wear? Does it I suggest that I don’t regularly shower in favor of having B.O.?

Wait — do I have B.O.? You guys would tell me, right?

I’ve decided to just file this with “Things White People Say” and move on. (Send your letters of complaint to Mary, P.O. Box Calm Down, Snowflake, AZ.)


Photo by Royal Anwar on Unsplash

Over the last decade, my policy has been to wear a tie to job interviews and funerals. And I haven’t been to any funerals. My hesitation to “clean up” is not because I don’t like looking sharp — a word my father used to use and I’ve come to accept as a perfectly fine descriptive word but I also have started using the word “slacks” so that may tell you something. Rather, I don’t like getting dressed up. Perhaps if Rosie from The Jetsons could drop-kick me into a suit every morning, I wouldn’t mind walking around looking like I am someone who lives to work rather than works to live.

So, bypassing the process would make a difference … temporarily. However, after two hours of being dressed up, I will undoubtedly be thinking about when I can get out of this clown suit. I mean, that’s plenty of time for enough people to see how nice I can look and maybe even capture a few pictures for posterity (or, perhaps a better word would be proof).

I’ve been lucky enough that for my entire professional career I’ve had the luxury of being able to wear whatever I want to the office. (I understand this policy can be a slippery slope. For example; I once worked at a place that had to include “No Chaps” in the dress code section of its employee handbook. Now, why do you suppose they put that in there?) I’m not one to push that envelope too far, although the flip-flop of my flip-flops as I ascended the stairs at Echo when I worked here full-time was a signal to everyone that I was approaching.

Photo by Hamza Baig on Unsplash

Let’s just say, I like to be comfortable. A lot of folks advise you should dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. That’s why I always dress like a lottery winner. And, honestly, I think all of us should.

It’s certainly not my place to tell people they shouldn’t wear a suit to work every day. But how many people stop to ask themselves why they are doing it? Does it make them more effective? Does it recharge Kevin’s brain so he can crunch those numbers better, or provide

Steve with the inspiration to draw sketches of houses?

The simplest answer is that it is “professional.” But what is dressing professionally, other than what society has deemed as such? People adhere to that notion of dressing like a Stepford employee because that’s what their father did, and his father and his father. Some of the most unprofessional people I’ve met were wearing Armani, and some of the most professional were wearing Adidas.

My work-attire choices may have cost me in the past, sure. There’s no question it is the main reason I never became a lawyer or a captain of industry.

Still, I think our country would be much more chill (a word I am using to counterbalance “sharp” and “slacks”) if we all just did business in casual attire.

I understand many of you won’t or can’t join me in this, but I’ll still be dressing like I’m always headed to a BBQ.


Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

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