======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ====
Nothing is more annoying than your alarm buzzing early in the morning, especially when your head is pounding. Splitting a bottle of wine with the girl you’re dating, but haven’t yet DTR’ed, on a Monday night was probably not the best move for productivity. Eventually, you manage to pry yourself out of bed and stumble into the shower. As the water tickles your skin and you try to stay conscious and upright, you’re forced to half-hazardly begin planning how you’ll make it through the workday in front of you. What is in the fridge that you can scrape together for a respectable lunch? Is the bus or train going to be faster today? And most importantly, what is the ‘fit you’ll be swagging into the office with? Well, for me, not so much the last one.
When I first graduated from law school and passed the Bar exam, I assumed I’d be wearing a suit for the rest of my time on Earth. I went to Brooks Brothers, loaded up on shirts and ties while wondering what the minimum number of suits I could get away with owning without breaking the bank (the answer, I determined was four). When I got my first lawyering job, however, I was shocked at how casual the dress code was. Unless we were in court or meeting with a client, anything within the ambit of “business casual” would do. Polos, sweaters, button-downs, and Chinos were the norm at my old job. We even had casual Fridays where jeans and sneakers were allowed. I thought I was in heaven.
But, towards the end of the summer, I started a new job. Unlike my last position with a small, local law firm, this job was part of a much bigger, nationwide company where I wouldn’t be doing much in the way of court appearances or in-person client meetings. That’s when I heard those magical words drop from my boss’s lips: “our office is jeans casual.”
At first, I couldn’t believe it. This must be a trick, a ruse, a bamboozle of some sort. I’d walk into work one day wearing my favorite jeans and t-shirt, only to find the rest of the office dressed in formal wear as if the Czar was visiting. Boy would my face be red. And so I stuck to what was safe at my last job. Chinos or slacks, with a dress shirt tucked in, and my spiffiest wing-tips. But after a week of walking around co-workers chilling in jeans and Nike hoodies, I eventually caved. And it led me down a dark path.
You see, at my previous job, my company’s dress code greatly limited the options available in my wardrobe. This lead to something of a ritualistic pattern: wash and dry on Saturday, iron on Sunday, and bi-weekly trips to the dry cleaners. By keeping to this routine, I was never in danger of waking up in a panic with nothing but an ill-fitting Henley to wear.
That diligent routine extended beyond just clothes. Sunday afternoons became a time devoted to getting my life into some semblance of order before the coming week. Cleaning, vacuuming, loading up the crockpot to slow cook something that would leave me with enough leftovers to carry through Tuesday. With all these procedures in place, I’d be left all set for the next week around dinnertime, just in time to Doordash some food and jam out on some South Park: the Fractured but Whole the rest of the night. Let me tell you, nothing combats the Sunday Scaries like going to sleep in a bed with freshly washed sheets in a clean house, knowing you have no chores to do for the next few days.
More importantly, this need to be productive on Sunday afternoons kept me from spiraling into an even deeper pit of sloth and vice. Without the need to get my clothes ironed and ready for Monday morning, I might not have adopted this habit of cleaning and preparing for the week ahead. I might have just spent my Sundays in a perpetual, middling state between hungover and still buzzed, as I extended my day drinking from brunch into the 4 or 5 o’clock hours.
Now that’s all gone. I have no structure for the weekends, nothing to keep my worst tendencies reined it. If I don’t get my clothes ironed for Monday, who cares? I can just throw on some jeans and a hoodie and I’ll be perfectly fine. Hungover on a Tuesday? Guess I can throw those plans to tuck my shirt in out the window. And this half-assed, “good is good enough” approach to my wardrobe has now crept its way into the rest of my life. I’ve had stains of spaghetti sauce stuck to the inside of my microwave for weeks, and I think my vacuum cleaner has more dust on it than actually in it. My house, once pristine at least one day a week, has devolved into something resembling a hostel following the host country winning a soccer match in the World Cup.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the work culture and I’m certainly not anywhere near the point of nixing the dress code entirely by walking in with soft pants and flip flops. I have some self-respect, and I do occasionally try to look nice even though it’s hard as fuck. But without this structure to my life, this pressure to have my clothes clean and ready for Monday, I’ve become a shell of myself. More beast than man, living just above a level of squalor that would disgust a bum. I lost my mojo, my rhythm, for keeping my life in order and now it’s collapsing right around me. And for those of you, like my mother, who wonder why I can’t just keep this cleaning routine and relax a little bit with regards to the dress style, you just don’t get it. The 4 pm football game just kicked off and I’m eyeing some tacos for dinner. I’m not getting up to clean unless I absolutely have to. .
Image via Shutterstock