With All Due Respect

Szymon Jeziorko from All Tied Up on dressing in elegant manner.

Author: Szymon Jeziorko

I've encountered this idea that dressing well is just good manners; that it shows respect toward people in our environment. As a guy who likes nice clothes a bit more than an average man, I'd say that's not entirely accurate. I dress for myself mostly, and I acknowledge the self-indulgence of such endeavour. There are situations, however, when donning a more elegant outfit really shows that you're able to look beyond your own need for comfort.

Dress is a social code. It's very imperfect as a communication tool, because based on individual views, and prejudices, and preferences it might be interpreted in a wide variety of different ways; but some things are quite basic and not really arguable.

For example, a shirt and jacket outfit is more elegant than t-shirt and jeans one. Subdued, subtle colours are more elegant than loud combinations. Clean shoes and clean and pressed clothes just look better.

And those things show some effort put into how you present yourself. You might not always want to show you care about this so much - you might be a kind of person who scoffs at the idea that clothes define you in any way. Or it might be the opposite: you find classic stuff boring, and feel the need to experiment and you have to actively try to limit this. All this is fine.

But some occasions require this little effort for a very simple reason: they're not about you. Here's where respect for other people comes in. Standing out from the crowd due to how you're dressed may be a cool thing; showing your individuality and character. But it seems to me quite important to know when to forgo that, and fit in. When to not focus attention on yourself, but let someone else take centre stage.

So if you go to someone's wedding, to a classical music concert, a theatre premiere - dress nicely, even if you don't like it that much. If you're going to a posh party organized in honour of something or someone who isn't you - dress nicely, even if you hate posh parties.

In modern world this almost never means getting into a three-piece suit or a tuxedo. Most cases you'll encounter will be served well enough with a pair of dark leather shoes, a navy jacket, white shirt, and grey wool slacks.

A lot depends on a type of the event, of course. Some are more relaxed, and you'll get away with wearing a pair of navy, slim-fitting jeans. Others might be a bit more formal, and then a navy or charcoal grey suit and a nice, subdued tie will be a better choice. But do yourself a favour and have an outfit for occasions like this. Be a gown-up and recognize when it's expected of you to show some respect towards others - also with how you're dressed.

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