the process

the wardrobe cue

today, we were at a meeting — one of those mind-numbing moderator-led meetings in which the group spends hours making sure everyone is in agreement about the meaning of words you’ll eventually discuss, if you ever get done defining them. the type of meeting that makes us want to leave the workforce, like, now.

even at a meeting like this, though, we feel different from everyone else. not because we dream of never attending another one of these sessions (we can hardly be the only ones who secretly roll our eyes at them). and not even because we’re well on our way to early retirement (maybe we’re the only ones, but who knows).

we stick out because we can’t make ourselves dress up like others do. we don’t dress sloppily or embarrass our employers, but looking around today, it’s just clear that everyone else tries a lot harder, and probably cares a lot more. the clothes, the hair, the makeup — all of it.

this is something that has always sent an important signal to us. sure, it doesn’t help that we telecommute and work from home, meaning that most days our work “uniform” involves mismatched pajamas and bathrobes. even when we both worked in offices, we still couldn’t muster the motivation to dress our best on average days. we’d only dress up when there were important meetings, and even then it was always a little half-assed. we’ve for sure never come close to achieving the adage, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” maybe because the job we want is no job at all.

if we really cared about achieving a lot in our jobs, wouldn’t we want to dress as nicely as possible? wouldn’t we want to look slick and pulled together all the time? we’re motivated to earn as much as possible, and to achieve a lot while we are working (our titles reflect that we are hitting the market). but our unwillingness to dress for success tells us that we’re not cut out for the rat race long-term. awfully convenient, then, that we’re engineering our exit strategy!

it’s not just frugality either. first, we aren’t naturally frugal, and once upon a time did spend money on clothes. plus, a huge number of bloggers can attest that you can dress extremely well for very little if you make good use of thrift stores. (as much as we love flea markets for housewares, we can’t stand thrifting for clothes — it’s just so much work. this does not help our case.)

it’s hardly rocket science, but this is one of those signals that’s long-lasting enough that it tells us that we’re doing the right thing aggressively planning for early retirement. older folks have told us that we’ll be bored when we retire, but we vigorously disagree. the casual world is the better fit for us — the world with no alarm clocks, time every day for outdoor activities, and very little to be in a hurry for.

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Categories: the process

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7 replies »

  1. I hate dressing up, I am glad I work in healthcare where scrubs are no make up is normal, for a very short time I worked in business, I wore basic makeup, clothes etc and didn’t mind but I have definetly gotten more casual the older I got (37 now)

    • Oh man — if I could have lived my work life in scrubs, I might still be planning to work forever. Haha. (And, having worked from home for the past six years, let’s be honest — we work in pajamas when we’re home anyway.) ;-)

  2. It seems clothes for us older fellows tend to run toward the more conservative blue, grey, black and brown. Not for me. I think the turning point to “go bold” was seeing Joe Walsh in some yellow leather (I suppose) sneakers, playing at one of the first Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads” festivals. Never have found those exact shoes. Without boring you to tears, let me just say I tend toward the brighter, brasher clothes, combining different patterns, with my varied-colored-soled shoes these days. If I got to be business casual four days a week, let me do it in my style. The VP of Sales called me, Mr. GQ, one day a few months back. Like the line from Uptown Funk, “If I’m gonna show up, I’m gonna show out.” And 99% of my clothes have been bought at those great percents off already marked down prices. Never buy retail. Thank goodness for casual Friday’s! Us worker bees get excited about the least things.

    Just found your site last weekend. Decided to start my journey through this blog by going thru your archives chronologically. I’m 62 and on the cusp of early retirement (I hope). I have so many questions for you but I don’t want to start a novella on my first post to your site. I’m thinking maybe I’ll stumble on answers as I roll thru these older posts.

    Congratulations on putting goals in place and achieving them!

  3. I just discovered your blog (and Fairer Cents) and since I couldn’t decide which post to read first, I decided to start at the beginning. I just had to chime in and say that I feel like you are a kindred spirit! Your passion for environmental protection, prioritization of health, and wanting to spend as much time as possible outdoors really resonates.
    With regard to this post, I am a college professor, so I get to dress fairly casually, however a couple of days ago I was dressed even more casually than usual, and I told my husband I was dressing for the job I want, which is no job!!! We are in our mid-40s and still like our jobs, but we are very close to work optional, so we are always discussing what might be our version of “our next life”! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and adventures!