Almost everyone who works has a uniform, though some more defined than others. Policemen and firemen dress like policemen and firemen, with red suspenders, badges, short sleeve button-up shirts, and pants—always pants, except for bicyclists. Waiters wear colorless tops and aprons, with characteristically beat up (read: comfortable) sneakers. J.Crew salesmen dip themselves from head to toe in whatever seasonal J.Crew clothing the company wants to display.
These outfits exist for a reason: recognition. Lifeguards, nurses, and the fine servicemen and women working drive-thru at McDonald’s must let us know who they are.
But there are, of course, exceptions. Not every professional has to be easily identifiable—one of them being the writer, who has no traditional uniform. Writers make it up as they go along; their job is to create another world, to transcend their own identity using words that become sentences, then paragraphs, then stories.
There’s no need to identify the writer because their words are always more important than their physical appearance.
The writer has no standard outfit and no stereotype. No grayish-blue, oil stained shirt with a name tag. No three-piece, charcoal, checkered Tom Ford suit atop polished brown wingtips. No tucked-in polo with khaki pants and saddle shoes.
A writer’s outfit doesn’t even intersect with other entertainers. What the actor wears tends to define him or her, both behind the camera and in front of an audience. A writer’s outfit is more like an artist’s: original, consistent, honest.
This applies to the writer who drags himself to Starbucks at 9 am every day just to guarantee a seat next to an outlet and the writer who comes into an office and sits at a desk. Both are (mostly) left alone to dress as high- or lowbrow as they please.
For every white-suit-wearing Tom Wolfe, there’s a Stephen King in a musty Red Sox hat. Each writer’s style is personalized to their own taste, which is always evolving.
I’m both a writer and someone who thinks often about clothing (what gave it away?). My style is always evolving, but in public I try to be the best dressed person wherever I’m camped out to type away, whether it be a coffee shop or the very office in which I’m writing this post.
I tailor my shirts and polish my shoes. I own more pocket squares than underwear, and more tie bars than socks. I take care of my cardigans as if they were my children.
I’ve held several jobs that required a uniform, and, maybe by coincidence, none were enjoyable.
Waking up, taking a shower, then slipping into whatever in my closet will make me happy that day is probably why I wanted to become a writer in the first place. Being one doesn’t call for a uniform, it allows me to brand my own. And just as every writer has their own voice, every writer also has their own style.
Michael Pina is the lead writer at Highly Relevant, and he never fails to impress the team with his impeccable sense of style.