I am pleased to report that I have influenced a guy to buy a pair of boots to wear with dress clothes to the office — in Washington, DC! Here is his message, reproduced with permission:
I have been following your weekly blogs about wearing boots to work. You have a great boot collection that gives you many choices!
Me–not the case. I haven’t worn boots in my adult life, but got interested to wear boots again when I celebrated my 40th birthday a few weeks ago.
I found your blog through some research I was doing about whether or not I could or should wear boots to work. I first found your “boot how-to” page which led me to your blog.
I work in the offices of a large private company located in the business core of Washington, DC. I’ve worked here for 15 years. I have been doing well with occasional promotions. I settled down, married, and have two kids. We live probably close to you in the Maryland suburbs.
People at the office are used to seeing me in the usual — what you call “clone” clothes — dress shirt, tie, slacks, and dress shoes. My big foray into fashion sometimes is to wear a more colorful tie or change the color and style of my shoes from black oxfords to brown wingtips.
I grew up in a small town in the Midwest and had a few pairs of boots that I wore in high school school and at summer and after-school jobs. But then I went to college in the big city and after graduating, I followed the advice of counselors and “dressed for success.” I ditched the comfortable boots for dress shoes when I went to work. Everyone told me that “you don’t wear boots with dress clothing” or “a man doesn’t wear boots if he wants a promotion” or “boots are for construction sites–they don’t belong in an office.”
I’ve missed the boots.
I was worried though about wearing boots to the office. I mean, my co-workers haven’t seen me in boots — ever. What would the reactions be? Would the boss look on me with disdain? Would my staff (direct reports) think the boss has lost it? Would the boots look weird with dress clothes? And I didn’t have any boots anyway.
Then I read your blog, saw the photos on your website, and thought to myself, “let’s order a pair of boots.” But being a married guy, I actually asked the wife. Her reaction, “what in the world? Are you going through a mid-life crisis?” But we worked it out. The boots were ordered.
But not to do anything irrational, I ordered traditional plain black cowboy boots with a rounded toe. Nothing fancy, pointed, or with kickin’ heels. I liked the style of Dan Post boots, and the price was right. I thought, “why buy really expensive boots if I decide I don’t want to wear them?”
The boots arrived last week. I pulled them on and thought to myself, “I forgot how great boots feel!”
The next morning as I dressed for work, I had some serious second-thoughts, but remembered what you said on your blog, “man-up and pull your boots on!” I found myself standing a bit taller, and felt more confident. I can’t explain why I reacted that way, but I did.
I wore my new boots with a pair of navy slacks, dress shirt, dark blue tie and a sportcoat. Drove to the Metro and stepped aboard the train. I was looking around to see if anyone noticed the boots. No one did.
I walked two blocks to my building, stopped for coffee, and as I got onto the elevator, the boss got on with me. He looked me up and down — his usual practice — but didn’t say anything about the boots. Instead, he asked me about a project I was working on.
Not much happened throughout the day. I went to some meetings, out for lunch, and to the cube farm where my staff have desks.
The only time anyone said anything about the boots was as I was leaving — the receptionist said, “those boots look good on you!” and gave me a smile.
Okay, I learned a lesson. I agree with what you have said — my concerns, fears, and worry were all self-imposed. Even in (as you say) “stuffy old DC,” no one said anything about my boots.
Well, until I got home and my son said to his friend, “my dad’s wearing cool new boots!”
I admit — these boots are more comfortable than some of my dress shoes! I am seriously considering getting a second pair of boots soon.
Thanks for your inspiration!
BHD closing note: Jeff says it all. Concerns about wearing traditional cowboy boots to work in a professional office? It’s all in your head.
Life is short: Man-up and pull your boots on.