Dress Code

Since I retired I have adopted a rather relaxed dress code. The bespoke suits and shirts, the Zegna ties, they all remain in the wardrobe but rarely see the light of day. I dress as I feel comfortable and the approach to shaving is similar. I can scrub up decently enough under duress. My DJ still fits and I can, as you all know, still tie a proper bow tie. In Europe the ‘understated’ dress code I adopted proved rather interesting.

I think it is fair to see that Mrs. Ha picked decent hotels for our trip and we flew at the front on all legs. The hotel staff seemed somewhat taken aback at my attire, especially as Mrs. Ha looks immaculate even when she thinks she is dressing down to my level. Women can accessorize (I think that is the right word). My accessories were all photographic. At the check in for our flight from Venice to Doha the Qatar Air lady saw us queuing in the line signposted ‘Business Class’, walked across to me and asked if I really was a holder of a valid business class ticket. I decided to eschew my normal diplomatic approach and asked her outright if I did not look good enough to fly business class. She went red and hastened to assure me that she had not intended to suggest such a thing. Nevertheless it was clear that hotel staff were also baffled by the apparent conflict between the tramp and the ability to pay the bills. I am happy to relate that they ultimately were more interested in my money than my unshaven appearance. As long as I sat quietly in the corner.

So what is the dress code in Venice? Here are two ends of the spectrum: Dress down…..

Dress Down

And the more elegant look:



I was somewhere in between. It is a sad fact for me however that Continental European Man generally seems to find looking elegant a natural way of life. Only the Swiss and some Germans let the side down with their penchant for white socks. This is a gross act of indecency that goes beyond wearing brown shoes with a dark blue suit. One of my boyhood heroes, Phil Bennett, lost his lustre when he turned up to a pre-Lions tour rugby dinner (I was at his table) in what he euphemistically termed a ‘tan’ suit and shoes. Martin Bayfield put him firmly in his place by quipping “we may not have a Grand Slam but at least we know how to dress for dinner”.

So having extended my reach to art critic I may soon have to consider a role as a fashion correspondent. After all, even in my shorts and T-shirt I still sported my panama each day and its hard to look down on a man wearing a panama. I shall be happy to answer any questions you may have on what to wear but you follow my advice at your own risk.

And here (on the right) to finish off is what I think I shall wear when I go to my next board meeting.




24 thoughts on “Dress Code

  1. Never judge a traveler by his whiskers/attire. The same happened to my husband when he was in the Business line, returning to AUS from Singapore.
    Your potential future board meeting attire is sure to enliven any bored meeting!

  2. I am not sure that candidate number one would be my chosen companion, but definitely more so than couple number two, I fear.
    I’ve always felt that business and formal attire was much too stuffy and, having limited but some experience working with such folk who wear appropriate duds, found all too many to be personality challenged. As you may have noticed, my humor is not at all times, or even frequently, refined. But I must say that when working in the confines of a business office, I would qualify for my own comic career.

    Therefore, I declare your choice of attire for the next meeting to be a capital idea.

  3. If clothes and appearance are the key to acceptance than I guess I will likely be restricted or thrown out if I am mistakenly admitted to begin with. I get good advice from my wife if she thinks I am stepping out in clothes that are damaged or dirty or terribly wrinkled. Her biggest source of influence is to make sure that I don’t cross-color my clothes too badly. But, I am allowed to wear jeans and a T-shirt most days as long as I don’t have an appointment with someone who might care. For me, dressing up is a shirt with buttons. I’m rather famous for wearing white socks with sandals…. only in Oregon can one get away with such indiscretion 🙂

    • Bruce, thanks for the heads up. I shall try to avoid Oregon. Cross-colour and complementary patterns are always tricky. I am familiar with the ‘don’t mix spots and stripes’ edict. I am not a great fan of ironing of casual clothes. It seems a waste of effort to me. Shirley is so coordination conscious that we spent (= she spent) half an hour deliberating a pair of earrings as she needed to think through what outfits they would go with. The danger question is always “what do you think?”

      In reality she has no interest in what I think. It is a trap. I have to guess what she wants me to say. My sidestep this time was “why don’t you buy them both?” – unfortunately, she did.

  4. Had a lovely day out today on the train (riding at the front… but on a deal). Only annoyed once on the platform of Chesterfield Station by flashy little squat talking loudly into a mobile using the language of his ilk. He was wearing a skinny midnight blue suit with not only light tan shoes but also matching tan belt. Every aspect of him deserved to be punched.

    • I think he should have been punched but the blame really lies with the shop who sold him such an appalling outfit. He needs counselling and therapy as much as a good slapping.

  5. I really am impressed by the elegantly dressed lady sticking the umbrella in her pocket. I could never get away with that. I would get confused with a Barry Humphreys doing a Les Patterson.

  6. I think you missed a trick here with the Qatar Air lady. A quiet word in her ear to say that ‘Madam always travels with her photographer to hand.’ would have made her blush even more furiously as she tried to think who Mrs Ha, who she had failed to recognise, might be. Love the dress/character contrasts.

  7. Andrew, good for you in putting the young woman in place. It’s distressing to know about so much snobbery. A relaxed dress code is the way to go. I wear jeans just about 99% of the time.

    The guy with the comical hat takes the cake and the prize.

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