The Dinner By Herman Koch 194x300This post was inspired by The Dinner, a novel by Herman Koch. Two brothers and their wives sit down for a tension filled dinner to discuss a tragedy that can change both families’ lives forever. Join From Left to Write on October 29 as we discuss The Dinner. As a member of this online book club, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Back in my early crochet days, as I was trying to find a place for myself in the industry and simultaneously trying to find myself, period, I did a lot of experimenting with what I wore.

I had never done that as a kid, and I skipped that important phase of adolescence. I didn’t have a princess phase when I was a (very tomboyish) preschooler. I didn’t have a goth phase when I was fourteen. I spent the first two decades of my life intensely self-conscious about both my body and what I wore on and around it.

Deliberately cultivating my crochet persona, however, gave me that delayed experience. At the same time I was working out my writing voice, I was attending conferences and trade events. To a fair extent, I was younger and more urban than a lot of the other people in attendance. People were (sometimes quite explicitly) wary of me – of my youth (read: inexperience) and of my calibration (fast-paced, inclined toward innovation, opinions of a New Yorker, politics of a Canadian). And I realized that I had an opportunity to make some very conscious decisions about the way I looked.

First off, I finally gave myself license to wear clothes that fit me properly and were flattering. Each trade show was an opportunity to buy an outfit I felt outstanding in.

I dressed well, but not according to any dress code I perceived. I dressed well for myself, and in a way I felt portrayed that I was a capable and respectful professional who has style.

I’m more comfortable with my standing in the industry now, and no longer feel I’m constantly making an all-important first impression. So I don’t mind now if I show up to a breakfast gathering in jeans and an old t-shirt if I’m going straight to the airport afterwards. Though I no longer consider my cultivated professional style to be a costume – and I did very much consider it that for a while – I now feel comfortable accepting that I don’t want to sit in an airplane for five hours wearing a mini-skirt and tights and boots.

I’ve been thinking about this mostly because I taught my first crochet class in years and years over the weekend at Knit City (more on that to come soon in a separate post!), and also because I’ve been reading The Dinner, by Herman Koch, and the first few chapters were very much about the airs we put on, and how we judge the airs of others.

Do you think about your clothing choices in a similar way? Do you choose not to care? Do you work in a place where dress code is paramount?