Most peple who know me also know that I despise suits. I am tired of trying to explain why every time this topic comes along, so I’ll write it down here.
To me, siuts are the ultimate expression of repression. There are 3 main qualities that I cannot stand about them:
- Everyone wearing suit looks exactly the same. Suits are featureless, bland and boring symbol of ultimate conformity. Suit wearer consciously declares “I am just like everyone else and I am proud of fitting in so well“. By this he denies himself slightest possibility of distinct character traits, authenticity or anything original, anything “self”. In this way it’s like wearing a brown paper box. To me, large number of people in suits in one place is a very sad picture — like a batch of identical mechanical robots that just came off the conveyor belt.
- Suits are severly limiting and uncomfortable: they limit both freedom of movement and “acceptable” behaviors to a fixed set of predefined rules. They are also very uncomfortable unless you condition yourself to feel comfortable in them over a period of time. In this aspect, for me, psychologically it’s the same as putting on a straitjacket.
- They are thoroughly, comlpetely impractical. They are not ergonomic, they require you to be careful in your actions while wearing them (not to “ruin” the suit), they require special maintenance, and they are hugely overpriced. I am totally fine with functional field uniforms, such as those of firemen, soldiers or construction workers, because those uniforms serve actual purpose — they either improve or extend your abilities, protect you, help you do your job and in general work with you, not against you. In this, uniforms are functional, as opposed to suits that are completely dysfunctional and server no actual purpose (only imagined/symbolic one). In short, siuts are form over function to the extreme.
*Following paragraph may seem a bit tangential, but bear with me, will explain later.
All this is compounded with other pressures modern life puts on you — average person is constantly forced into tighter and tighter “molds” defined by society, it’s laws, norms, morals and popular culture. Some of those forces are “hard” forces, such as law, where non-compliance results in explicit punishment. Others are “semi-soft”, such as morals, where failure to comply does not result in direct explicit punishment, but rather in being condemned by peers which is a sort of psychological punishment. And then there are “soft” forces, such as popular culture, where neither direct nor indirect punishment is applied to those who refuse to comply. Rather, there’s a constant pressure to fit in — peers, media, popular culture tells you how you’re supposed to act, dress, spend your free time (popular activities to do, movies to watch), what technologies to use (smartphones, Facebook), what your attitudes are supposed to be (liberal, tolerant, LGBT-applauding, refugee-inviting etc., etc…), what you should do with your life (have children, buy a house, get a car). In some cases that pressure can become so extreme as to lead to verbal conflicts.
Now, you may ask “How is this related to suits?“, and the answer is similar to what I said in the very beginning: suit is the ultimate symbol of fitting in, of surrendering to all these pressures and becoming as they say “well adjusted member of society”. As you probably already realized, I am not well adjusted. Because of all this, wearing a suit feels demeaning and suffocating to me. How I dress, along with my harsh sense of humor are some of very few remaining areas where I can still feel some degree of freedom. Trying to rob me of those last bits of freedom by pressuring me into wearing a suit even once a year (say for official company party) will result in conflict.
Suit is a restraint to remind you that you are in a heavily restricted social situation and must follow heavily restricted behavior rules. And to finish it all off there’s a tie: a loop around your neck with a convenient handle to strangle you with in case you don’t comply.