Thursday, March 26, 2009

What Shoes?

Weather report: Rain, in mid 40s. What's on the calendar? Meetings and ah yes, lunch with a former colleague and friend. What shoes?

I do not suppose that any normal person would think about their shoes upon arising but really you should. My window to the soul is the sole (and the heels). While I'm hopeless at picking stocks (see Qualcomm), I know everything from the scuff marks, the down at the heel heels, the round or squareness of the toe box.

I suppose I should explain:

Many years ago I was invited to a rather swank and private party at Bergdorf Goodman. When I got up that morning, I saw three inches of snow had fallen overnight. Very bad. Everything had to change -- the pants, the coat, the hat and most importantly the shoes.

While I would have loved to throw caution to the winds and wear the perfect ballerina heel, I knew I couldn't. Big, heavy, leather boots c'est moi. What a pity.

I took the train to New York and then the subway to 53rd and Fifth. As I crossed 57th Street I spotted two stunning creatures alighting from a black Lincoln Town Car. Wearing the most impossibly high and strappy sandals and slingback pumps, they entered BG's side entrance and the three of us shared the elevator to the third floor.

You don't need to rub it in, I know: Bring the gorgeous ballerinas and change in the ladies room.

I still think about that morning tea and how it doesn't matter how much therapy you've had, how many clients you've helped, how many campaigns you've launched. Sometimes all that really matters is wearing the right shoe, nor'easter be damned.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Showing Up

It's only fair to tell you that I'm a dropout. At the beginning of my second year in the local religious school, I was escorted out of the building and asked not to return. My crime: Bringing pretzels into the classroom that were not marked "kosher."

Whatever. I grabbed my notebook and unfinished homework and never looked back.

That's probably the last time I said "whatever" and meant it. These days I'm rabid about showing up.

Good example: I just received a call from a potential client. He'd like to discuss working together. Could we meet this afternoon?

Of course we can. But only because I'm dressed for ready.

I bet you can think of at least three occasions when you passed up an opportunity to have lunch, take a meeting, initate a conversation, introduce yourself because you showed up for the day...but barely. You know what I'm talking about -- sloppy pants, ill-fitting jacket, unwashed hair, shoes that need a good polishing -- and funnily enough you probably knew as you were getting dressed that you were shaping the trajectory of your day.

Here's another way to look at it: Can you afford to let an opportunity go unmarked? Do you look at every new relationship as an opportunity to tell your story, widen your network and move in new circles? Are you moving through your life with purpose?

I know it would save time to skip the morning ritual of laying out the clothes, the accessories, even the silly barrette matchup. And there are times when I deride myself for caring so much about, well, practically everything.

On the other hand, I'd rather care about a lot of things than care about nothing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Corduroy at a Funeral?

Mon Dieu! The Lord High Executioner slipped on his admittedly comfortable corduroy pants as we dressed for a funeral on Long Island.

"Corduroy at a funeral?" I asked. "Surely you jest."

"Is there a rule for it in your Book?" I thought about it for just a long minute. "Of course there's a rule for it in my Book."

I do have a lot of rules. I'm deeply and passionately in love with proper behavior. And frankly no one should wear corduroy to a funeral. Or shorts to the theater.

I still marvel at the chutzpah of a relative showing up at my grandmother's funeral in elasticized waist pants with a sweater that needed a good de-pilling. What was she thinking? This is a woman who sports a three carat emerald ring so she certainly could have worn something a bit more soigne.
But was her whatever moment.

When you attend a funeral your clothing sends a message about how you respect and share the grief. You don't have to don "widow's weeds" but you certainly need to reflect the seriousness and gravity of the situation. Sport jackets, ties, pressed pants and good shoes for men and skirts or dresses for women. Can there be any more formal occasion than celebrating someone's life?

I looked around at Sunday and saw people in track suits, jeans and yes, corduroy. (You can't win every battle.)