I wore a suit last week for a formal affair.
No tie, of course. I don't strap decorative nooses around my neck anymore, but dress pants, matching jacket, and button-down shirt, and shoes.
I hated it.
I despise wearing a suit.
Part of my hatred for suits is simply based upon my hatred for being told what to do.
Part of my hatred is the uniform aspect of a suit. I went to a formal affair where all the men essentially dressed identically. Yes, the shades of blue and grey were slightly different, and some of the shirts were blue and others were white, but every man was basically wearing the same thing.
I was the only man not wearing a tie.
I think this is stupid. The clothing that the women wore to the event was at least diverse and distinctive. They were still required to wear certain things and avoid other things, but at least they didn't all look like little formal soldiers of mundanity, marching around in jackets and pants and ties.
Uniforms. I hate those, too.
But here is the truth of the matter. Here is the real reason I despise wearing a suit:
I don't like the way I look in a suit.
I don't feel good about my appearance when wearing a suit.
I don't feel good about myself when wearing a suit.
This is the heart of the matter.
I know that my hatred toward being told what to do is slightly infantile. I can even get past the idea that the men were required to be dressed alike (though it's really, really stupid).
But people shouldn't be required to wear clothing that doesn't make them feel good about themselves. People shouldn't be required to wear something that makes them feel bad when they look in a mirror. This strikes me as a basic human right, and yet this is exactly how I feel when I wear a suit.
I don't like the way I look in a suit. I feel bad about the way I look.
And yes, my wife and others told me that I looked good, but if I don't think that I look good, their words are not going to suddenly change that opinion.
This is true of all people. I can assure my wife that she looks great, but if she doesn't think she looks great, my words carry no water. This may be truer for me than most, but we all feel this way to some degree:
We don't care what people think about us nearly as much as we care about what we think of ourselves.
I want to feel good about the way I look.
I should have the right to feel good about the way I look.
Would it have made any difference if I'd worn jeans, a tee shirt, and jacket? If every man had arrived in the outfit of their choice rather than their assigned uniform, would anyone have cared?
Only the judgmental douchebags and elitist snobs.
Some may say that I need to grow up. There are times in your life when you need to conform to expectations. You don't always get to choose what you want to wear. There are times in life when convention, expectation, and tradition supersede personal preference.
I would argue that I have grown up. I am an adult man who knows that the veneer of formality is nonsense. That expectation and tradition are simply a means of reinforcing conformity/ Requiring someone to put on clothing that makes them feel ugly or stupid or silly should be reserved for small children and federal inmates. Growing up means seeing through arcane expectations that serve no purpose other than to strip away individuality, self respect, and self determination.
Growing up means understanding that the ten year-old version of yourself was right:
You should just be able to wear whatever the hell you want without anyone giving you grief. You should be allowed to feel good about your appearance. Good about yourself. Good about the way you look.