Like many people who work in professional settings, since I earned my Ph.D., I have always worked in environments that require me to wear a business suit. “Business suit” was defined by my employers as a dressy blouse, topped with tailored skirt and matching jacket. I was also required to wear “leg covering,” meaning sheer stockings (no fishnets or tights!) and dressy shoes with a relatively high heel (no flats!). These dress code requirements were foisted on me by all of my employers, prior to the time when David and I founded Magnus Research Consultants, and were mandated to be worn on all work days, regardless of what was on my agenda each day. There were numerous occasions when I worked for a national trial consulting company that we were working in our offices, preparing reports for clients, but seen by no one outside our small office, yet we were all required to wear a suit (for reasons I never understood). My work history pre-dates the widespread acceptance of pantsuits for women, even though they had been acceptable in the 1970s (a rather odd change in fashion), such that, when it was, once again acceptable for me to wear a pantsuit to work, I was already a co-owner of my own company and thus, not subject to any dress code. This being said, I have always, and I will always, wear a business suit with a dressy blouse and a matching skirt and jacket on 2 important occasions: (1) during research days, when I am conducting mock jury research with clients; and (2) during jury selections, when I work alongside clients in a courtroom. Now that I am in charge of the company dress code, I wear a pantsuit on other occasions that are less formal than the 2 described above: (1) when I am making a speech/presentation to a group of attorneys, insurance adjusters, psychology or law students, or other types of audiences; and (2) when I attend a meeting with clients or potential clients. (Yay for the return of pantsuits!). There are other situations, such as when Magnus conducts focus groups (more informal than mock trials) on which everyone on the research team wears business casual attire, including our beloved Magnus bowling shirts. And, on days when I am working in Magnus’ office, doing things like concentrating on writing a report for a client, speaking with clients by telephone, or engaged in a plethora of other tasks, I am usually attired in shorts, a t-shirt (most often, a Beatles or John Lennon t-shirt), and sandals. Although I am a pretty casual person, I have found myself longing for the time when I can go someplace that is important enough for me to wear a business suit. Every time I step into my closet, I gaze at all of my suits, lined up and ready, but having nowhere to go. I guess I could get “dressed up with no place to go,” but I will celebrate the day when my suits and I can return to the courthouse or to a research day. Have suit, will travel!
I never thought I/we would be longing for wearing a suit, or for me, a tie. I have not worn a suit in the last 2 months – a time period longer than any in the last 30 years! My suits are literally collecting dust. And, the ties, well I don’t think I will forget how to tie them, but there they hang – unworn and lonely. Honestly, wearing the suit/tie business costume is not among my favorite things to wear – but I do when it is the norm to do so. I even find myself wearing suits to meetings in which I end up being the only one wearing the full uniform as so many offices, including law offices, have relaxed their dress code. But, not to do so and end up being out dressed by someone I’m meeting is not a risk I take. Nevertheless, suit wearing, and relatedly, trips to the dry cleaner, have always been indicators to us of being busy, work wise. And, the dry cleaners tell Melissa and me when the economy is strong, or not so strong, based on how busy they are. I’m ready to get back to busy, in a productive way, even if it means tying one on, a tie I mean.