Jason Specland: Consultant, Comedian

Making it up as I go along. Always.

Tag: clothes

Why I Dress

On two separate occasions recently, people have asked me why I dress the way I do. On both occasions, I was onstage or about to go onstage, so I answered, “The answer is complicated, and I can’t talk about it right this very moment. If you really want to know, ask me later.” Unsurprisingly, neither followed up. So, in the tradition of answering questions for which nobody really cares about the answers and serve only to stroke the ego, I present the answer.

Those of you who know me but haven’t seen me in a while may be wondering what the hell I’m talking about. While I haven’t been a tee-shirts-and-jeans guy since I stopped working for dot-coms, until recently I generally wore what I affectionately called “the Khackiverse.” Perfectly normal and acceptable for a not-formal-but-not-a-startup computer-guy job. Lately though, I’ve been “upping my game” as they say, by generally wearing at least a sportcoat and often a tie all the time. In fact, right now I’m wearing a suit and I’m not even going out for an interview.

Why? Several reasons.

First, it just looks nice. Every girl’s crazy for a sharp-dressed man. (Especially my wife.) And if there’s anyone I trust for guidance with style, it’s ZZ Top. Okay, so I don’t actually trust them about style, but I do trust them to write quotable lyrics about style.

Second, for the same reason I generally don’t wear tee-shirts with logos and funny sayings on them anymore. I’m a man with a job and a family, not a boy. Several years ago I did a massive tee-shirt purge and felt better for it. This is just a natural continuation.

Third, because I appreciate the theatricality of dress. So much so, that I’ve been trying to dress as nicely as possible when performing. Improv naturally has no costumes, and people perform in whatever they wear on the street. Which considering society at large, is tee-shirts and jeans. But I’ve always appreciated people who recognize that performing is presentational. I’ve always loved bands who wear suits, for example. It says, “I’m doing a show. It is an occasion.” I felt this way even before I took Ali Farahnakian’s Level 5 class at the PIT, but Ali kind of cemented for me. He advised always to dress one step nicer than your audience. “If they’re wearing tee-shirts and jeans, you wear a jacket and tie. If they’re wearing jackets and ties, you wear a tuxedo. If they’re wearing tuxedos, you wear a white tuxedo,” he said, my paraphrasing memory not withstanding.

And so, when I perform at the PIT this evening, I’ll be wearing a beige suit with faint pink and black checks, a light blue shirt with thin olive stripe, a blue wool tie with a black and white plaid pattern, and a pair of buckle loafers that I got cheap on eBay. And also, a bright-red PIT bar napkin that I’ll use as a pocket square. Just ’cause.

Contrasting Things

Two contrasting things I’ve been into lately:

1. I’ve been trying to dress nicely. With my collection of tee shirts, jeans, and khakis for work I was feeling a bit like I was still dressing like a teenager. First I went shopping at Macy’s. (Well, first I went to Bloomingdale’s, saw a pair of pants that cost more than my rent, and left.) Then, and I know I’m so late to this party that I arrived just as the dishes were being put away, I discovered eBay. In any case, I’ve been putting on nicer clothes lately.

2. At work I’ve been doing a long, miserable slog through my database that involves a lot of manual labor and almost no actual creativity. To pass the time, I’ve set Pandora to blast my face with Heavy Metal for hours on end. There’s something about the unending repetition of face-melting power chords that allows me to concentrate.

So, if you need me, I’ll be the guy in the corner in the jacket and tie listening to Metallica.