Last Friday after work, I stopped at the shops to grab some groceries. Before I even entered the centre, two strangers had nodded at me as they walked past. I can’t remember ever seeing them before in my life, I wouldn’t be able to identify them now, but I know why they acknowledged me – we were wearing the same shirt.
The shirt isn’t a sporting team shirt. I work for my family’s business, the name of which isn’t even displayed on my pocket. My work clothes certainly aren’t high-end brands. The shirt I was wearing on Friday is heavy drill cotton, bright orange on the top half, navy blue on the bottom half, with several stripes of silver grey reflective tape cutting me horizontally into eights. (Yes, it’s very attractive). The point is, to those people I was recognisable. Long pants, steel-cap boots, grime marks up to the elbow, and the type of shirt meant they knew enough of me to acknowledge a shared experience, all communicated in a casual nod as we passed each other.
The last time I went to that shopping centre, I was in another ‘uniform’ – navy blue slacks, collared shirt, and my nurse’s watch tapped a beat against my chest as I tried to slip through the crowds before school finished. That time, I was smiled at by pensioners, people using crutches and the check-out chick said “You’re a nurse, aren’t you!” as I stepped up to pay.
It’s peculiar what clothes can do. Aside from helping you avoid that nightmare where you find yourself stark blushing naked in public, clothes have power.