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…