No more suits!

I don’t like wearing suits. Not at all. Even wearing a collared shirt and tie makes me feel as if I’m being slowly strangled. Some men wear suits to make them feel more professional. When I wear suits I feel like a monkey that is getting dressed to perform. This could be the result of working in offices for too many years.

Before I came to Korea I was not sure what would be appropriate to wear while teaching. The first week I opted for a suit, since I figured it was more “professional”. I hated it. As a result I didn’t relax and enjoy the teaching experience. Since then I’ve been gradually getting rid of the suity stuff. First to go was the jacket. That was in the first month. No-one noticed. Then a couple of weeks later, the tie. Again, no-one noticed. For the past few weeks I’ve been debating dumping the suit pants and collared shirts as well. I’ve been edging that way by first just wearing my shirt sleeves rolled up. This also has a very practical reason – it’s starting to get a wee bit warm here.

This week I decided to take the plunge and just wear jeans and a button-up shirt. Did anyone notice? Nope. Not at all. Not even a smidgen. And boy was it a great feeling to dump all vestiges of the suit! Even though I probably look less professional, I definitely feel more comfortable. That makes my classes immeasurably more enjoyable.

The only problem with this is that I need to find more shirts to wear, since I’m not a fan of the shirts-tucked-into-jeans look. I like shirts that you don’t have to tuck in, but that still look a bit more formal. This is more problematic than you would think. Mens clothing in Korea tends towards purples and pinks, with frills and shiny materials. For me, a manly-man from Africa, this just doesn’t do. That is, it wouldn’t do. Yesterday I succumbed. I just couldn’t find anything I liked, and if I did it didn’t fit. So I ended up buying two shirts from Hang Ten. Nope, it isn’t like Hang Ten in SA, to my disappointment. Not much of the beachy-wear stuff, and much harder to decide what is men’s clothing, and what’s women’s clothing. But at least they had some shirts that fit me. In SA I’m a medium. In Korea I’m a XL. Ha.

Other than the satin-lining on the sleeves, they are ok. Yes, that’s right – they have satin-lining on the sleeves. You just can’t get away from this stuff. If I wasn’t in Korea, there is no way I’d be caught dead in these. But at least I’ll finally fit in with all the other men here.

I’m willing to accept satin-lining. But I draw the line at pink jerseys. No ways am I wearing one of those. Not even that cute one that I saw in a store window yesterday. But, you know, maybe I’ll just take a quick look tomorrow to see if it’s still there…


2 responses to “No more suits!

  1. i hear you.
    for the first two months i shaved everyday because i thought it was professional. then i slowly crept up on not shaving and growing out the beard — oh, man. no one said anything except “You look so handsome!” or “I don’t like beard. But okay.”
    i really don’t think most Korean principals care what we native teacher’s wear.
    oh, yeah. about shirts that you can like. i had that problem, too. I’m 6’5 and 92 kilos. i scoured Seoul for suitable shirts, but they were either too short, to big, or just lame.
    but then, just last month i realized that i could get shirts tailor made — and cheap, too. up in Dongducheon, I can get a tailor made shirt for 20,000 won. that’s good no matter where you are, especially when the same thing goes for 40,000 won at Emart.

  2. Nice beard! I’m currently down to jeans and button-up shirts. Not sloppy, but not a suit either.

    I’ve managed to track down some local stores with a halfway decent selection of shirts. But it is still a hassle to find something that I like and that fits.

    I’ll check out the tailor-made thing. Could be a lifesaver!

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