Tied up with indecision

There’s some pre-conditioned part of me that feels it necessary to turn up to work reasonably smart, even on days there’s a good chance I won’t be leaving the office (although I always carry a jacket and tie with me. Just in case). If I’m scheduled to attend press calls  it’ll be the full suit, regardless of the fact I work in radio. I could turn up wearing Bermuda shorts and no top and nobody would be any the wiser.

This isn’t force of habit. At the weekend I’m quite happy to slob around in jeans with a tear on the arse, or amble down to the shop in my pyjamas. But my working week contains an inner sense of smart that you could describe as unshakable, until this week.

First comes the news that Jon Snow thinks there’s no future in ties and prefers Iranian collarless shirts. Part of Jon Snow’s reason for being, I’ve always thought, was to fly the flag for slightly garish, yet compelling neck-wear. His Facebook tie appreciation group would have to shut for a start. I blame Paxman for leading him astray.

But it was a story today that made me question my work style. I spent a large part of the day covering a story of national interest, so all the news networks plus a couple of national papers were present.

I’d staggered out of bed an automatically reached for a lilac shirt and blue, black and lilac tie without thinking when I got the call. Black shoes, as well, naturally. I was the most overdressed person there.

The Sky [1] correspondent had gone for tie and jacket combined with cords and pumps. the BBC were mostly wearing regulation-issue fleeces and jackets with an individual twist. The local papers were definitely dressing down, and the national paper journo could have easily been mistaken for the car park attendant.

It’s a common feeling. You’re in the middle of a field, party or equivalent only to realise you’ve misread the invitation and everyone’s burning a hole in your outfit without actually looking at you.

Now none of this should affect my ability to do my job, but the ease which other correspondents gilded from interview to interview made me wonder if I should make a radical move and turn up in one of my two pairs of jeans tomorrow [2]. Non-professional interviewees get nervous enough when a strange man sticks a microphone in their face at the best of times But if he’s wearing A SUIT. That’s one step away from becoming a politician trying to connect with the people. [3]

But dressing down would prevent me with choice. And if there’s one thing I do worse than attempting to blend in, it’s being decisive. I’ve been known to spend an hour deciding what to eat before getting too hungry and nipping out to the chippy. And not only that, I can’t for the life of me do smart casual, so I’ll probably turn up with one of the more inappropriate T-shirts [4] on the day I get called the The Most Important Press Conference In The World Ever. And then I’ll be back to standing in the middle of a field, party or equivalent only to realise I’ve misread the invitation and everyone’s burning a hole in my outfit without actually looking at me.

I’m not going to be able to win on this am I?

[1] Or maybe ITV. I’m not sure. 

[2] Like any good man, I own a couple of pairs of jeans, 4 shirts (2 long sleeve, 2 short) and endless T-shirts with what seemed like amusing slogans at the time. Strangely I own a lot of jumpers. I attribute this to my internal body heating that clearly belongs to an 85-year-old. 

[3] I’m hopeless out of touch with most things. But not *that* hopelessly out of touch. 

[4] They range from ‘Caution: Emilie Heskey’ to ‘Autistic Children Rock’. 

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