I went to a supermarket on a Sunday morning to buy some groceries. While putting my items away in the boot of my car, one marketer who was distributing fliers said “Good morning, please give this to Oga or Madam.” I was shocked. I replied, “Oga or Madam? I don’t understand.” He apologized and explained how he thought Oga or Madam was in church next to the supermarket while I was watching over the car.

I shared this experience in a WhatsApp group with my guys and someone said maybe it was because of what I was wearing. Now this was a Sunday morning, I had not bathed. So I wore a V-neck top and sweat pants and drove to the supermarket. What was I supposed to wear? Should I have worn a three-piece suit because I wanted to buy groceries?

This brings me to the issue of this Nigerian mentality of “how you dress determines how you are addressed”. I say Nigerian because I realize it’s in Nigeria people call you “Sir” only when they see you wearing a suit.

Once, I went to a hotel somewhere on the Island and I wore palm sandals. The security guard looked at me and said “Yes?”. You know that unwelcoming “Yes?” people say when they want to really ask “What do you want here?”. So I called the security man and asked him why he didn’t ask “May I help you?”, instead of repelling customers with “Yes?”. He felt offended when he should have been grateful for the correction.

Outside Nigeria, I never have to pay this much attention to my dressing. During a visit to Dubai some time ago, I wore palm sandals to Burj Khalifa and the security guard granted me audience and even directed me to the proper entrance where I could pay and take the tour if I wanted. Even some average hotels on the Island might not allow you in without shoes. It’s almost as if they think your shoes determine your ability to pay.

Granted, it is only right for one to dress appropriately for different occasions. One would be expected to dress formally for a business meeting, for example. However, there are also many moments when you need to cut yourself some slack and loosen up a bit. Considering that I wear a suit to work everyday except Friday, it’s important to let my body breathe during weekends. Outside work, you’ll rarely catch me in anything other than a t-shirt, some shorts or jeans and, of course, palm sandals.

When it comes to appearance, for me, comfort is key. People say dressing gives you confidence but I beg to differ. Confidence is from within.

What do you think? Have you ever been addressed in an unexpected manner due to your dressing? Or have you ever been over-dressed or under-dressed at an event. If so, how were you treated? Please share your stories; let’s have some fun in the comments…

Responses

  1. TheWhisperer
    Well said… one’s dressing shouldn’t be a determining factor for how he/she is being addressed. And it goes beyond the dressing, even hairstyles too. It’s one of the many societal issues that is very dicey. I guess its just an issue of first impressions. We often judge what we see FIRST before going deep down the layers.

    Also, this is an African society where a lot of things are morally judged. It might take a while for certain things to be accepted. Lately, I was at a beach and I saw a guy in his Fruit of the loom briefs (another kind of brief would probably have sufficed). I don’t need to tell you i was put off by the display of his junk, I don’t even want to talk about the ladies. But hey! this was a beach where you need not wear full clothing, I’m sure I’ve seen same in foreign movies and i can’t remember frowning at the display of excess skin.

    2+
    1. Dickson
      You are not overweight; you are just perfect. If only Nigerians will learn to not pass a judgement on people based on how they choose to dress.
      Thanks for reading.
      0
      1. Dickson
        I can imagine. You might even be older than some of those who address you as such.
        Ironically; if you decide to put on weight; same people will say “she is fat”…
        It is well jare…
        1+
  2. Morris
    I don’t know the feeling, Thank God. I’d say tho, that the reaction is probably birth from the fact that we put a lot into dressing, we ‘show off’ through it almost every time!!!
    0
    1. Dickson
      Spot on!!!
      Those of us who don’t get to show off through our dressing have to face the bile from the mouth of those who do.
      Thanks for reading.
      0
    1. Tess
      You sure can be over dressed.

      A typical example is someone attending a house party in formal wears and stilettos whereas the rest are on casual wears.

      0
  3. Wisdom
    Interesting. A man’s outward dispisition is not a yardstick for measuring his inward composition. Nigerians are ridiculous.Suit and Agbada wearers own the day here. A pity.
    0
  4. Princess Rolee
    It has happened to me numerous times. the last time was when I went to a hospital and requested to see a specialist. This was on a public holiday so I wore a maxi gown and packed my hair neatly. I was as presentable as ever. Na im I enter the hospital, after I made my request. The first thing the lady said was “It’s xxnaira o and you have to pay first”. I ignored her the first time, she made that statement two more times. Kai, if no be say I no well that day ehn….

    It just shows how bias our judgement of a person and possibly character can be based on how they dress. Sometimes, the quality of what you wear is another factor. You could be in a perfect suit and tie but the quality no go reach their standard.

    0
    1. Dickson
      I nearly laughed when I read this; though I know the reality isnt funny.
      It’s sad. I watch POTUS on CNN address the international media with his sleeves rolled up. Yet here; people can’t be taken seriously when they roll up same sleeves.
      0
  5. Michelle
    Just what I was discussing with my sister today.. Nigerians have no censor.. I was at a bank sometime ago and the security guy goes “where’s your mummy” This was in my 300l summer holiday. Apparently I was underdressed with no make up and stuff but I only wanted to withdraw some money to buy stuff in a store nearby.

    Another time at school in my final year I went by the bursary to convert my teller to a receipt and without asking dude writes 100 level on my receipt . reason being I didn’t have the “final year kind of make up on” (you know fleeking brows and all) but I am one for simple things..

    1+
  6. Oiyk
    You can try going to the club with ur palm sandals or maybe the security at the entrance just doesn’t get ur vibe enough and see what he will do to you. Especially for the ladies, if you don’t dress scandalous some of this security guys will tell you you CANNOT enter the club. I just do not get it with why you have to be sentimental about how the dress looks and if they do otherwise with the dressing, you get to hear insults like ashewo hurled at them (My sister and wife have been victims of not wearing scandalous clothes).
    Left for me, i just like to wear my slippers to church or to places i feel wearing it to. And yes i like wearing tees too but i don’t like it when i am being reprimanded for wearing them. It doesn’t change my bank account status for crying out loud.
    0
  7. Bola Tolu-Adeliyi
    Sometimes la year, I was in court with one of my junior lawyer and the lawyer on the other side came over to my table and was addressing my lawyer, asking for permission to take another date for the suit. After, he finished talking my lawyer said that’s my madam ask her. All becos I was smartly dressed.
    0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+