Unbranded and home on the range.

Dressed to kill?

What is it about classy, sharp dressing that makes people so uncomfortable? Why do people [particularly guys] willingly wallow in the cesspool of pseudo-slobby mediocrity when it comes to self-appearance? And because they can’t find the willpower or motivation to dress nicely when they go out, they resort to showering thinly veiled deprecatory remarks upon those who do make the effort to step up their game?

(Misery loves company? Who knew.)

Sample scenarios – all true and real:

1.) In a casual meeting with my boss at Company A, while glancing at the ring on my right hand, he remarks: “Bro, does she know you dress like this?” (uhh, yeah, she does) I was a bit taken aback; nowhere in either written or unwritten social convention had I been advised that once you are enagaged, or on your way to being so, that you should put the brakes on dressing sharply. Are ladies afraid that if their fiance / fiance-to-be continues dressing well, that he’s going to be … what? stolen by some other girls or some aunties looking to snatch him for their own daughters? (Get real.)

2.) Walking into my office at Company B, one of the girls Jaycee* from proposal team was walking by when she stopped in her tracks with her mouth open: “Saul is today some special occasion or do you have a hot date tonight?!” I was perplexed but I managed to smile politely and respond that it was my custom to dress in  3-pc suit and tie to work on Mondays. I happened to be wearing a white dress shirt with black & silver cufflinks, deep purple paisley-pattern tie, black pinstripe waistcoat with a purple satin back, and pinstriped pants. My coat was hanging in my cubicle. Gee … I thought we had some standards in the corporate world … standard fare is to kick it up a notch at the beginning of the week, si? So why the surprise?

3.) Getting ready to go out to an event, one of my brothers-in-law who was visiting from UK eyed my light-colored ensemble – which perhaps was out of his personal comfort range, okay fine – and asked me “Do straight guys around here wear that? Straight … Muslim guys?” I nodded very slowly and replied the affirmative. Of course I was wondering why his query had to be qualified with the reference to sexual orientation. Who knows. Maybe Santa Claus.

4.) At my sister’s wedding just a few weeks ago, I was wearing a light sand-colored cotton-linen-mix suit. Perfect for the summer. Black dress shirt underneath, no tie, and black dress shoes. One of my sister-in-law’s relatives comes up to me all smiling and says [translation] “Damn wow! What’s the matter? You’re looking hot and polished tonight! Is something up?” (cocked eyebrow) I smiled and said I was dressing up because it was a wedding, and not just any wedding, but that of my youngest sister. I had no ulterior motives, I wasn’t here to check out any ladies, no thanks – I’m off the market. Of course I was amused by the implication that dressing up all hot and nice at YOUR SISTER’S WEDDING means you’re there to scoop up some potential rishtas. That implication, by extrapolation, also says that everyone else there isn’t worthy of seeing you dressed up in a handsome, well-cut suit. Oh hell, I’m so stupid. Duh, we’re supposed to dress in a mismatched, disheveled way like all the uncles, right? Oh, excuse me while I go stuff my face with more daal and roti so I can smarten up.

5.) Yesterday was Friday. For Muslim guys its nice to dress up in a white outfit on Fridays. Its not necessary, its just nice to do so and its a social custom in many Muslim cultures worldwide. So today to work I was wearing a white cotton casual blazer, along with a pair of white dress pants. White semi-casual dress shoes, and a black dress shirt, and black belt w/ brushed metal silver buckle. Threw in a pair of aviators.

Kinda like this, except I was also wearing a white T-undershirt:

I think its perfect for those casual Fridays when you don’t want to wear jeans to the masjid, but you don’t want to wear a suit and tie to work either. Yes it looks nice. That’s why I wear it. And no I don’t keep track of how many accidents I cause while standing at the intersection waiting to cross the busy downtown street, so stop asking.

I wore it all day at the office today, outside to the mall, and to Jum’ah with no incident. One of my colleagues saw me and gave a compliment, okay cool thanks bro, you too.

Then I come home from work, and after iftar and dinner, we head out to the masjid. After Isha’ and tarweeh I’m mobbed by a bunch of old friends who are asking me if I think the masjid also doubles as a dance hall a la Saturday Night Fever? (No, I think masjids are for sujoud and the clubs are for fevered people.) Do I think I’m Travolta? (No I don’t, although he’s one of my favorite actors.) One of them calls my younger, newly-married brother over and tells him to “control me” – (uhh … what?) One of them – trying to link my completely halal outfit with that of homos and queers, suggests I should be the new president of Al-Fatiha. (I’ll pass, thanks.)

These incidents are just a handful of some of the wacky and awkward remarks (compliments?) that get tossed my way whenever I step up the game. Maybe some people don’t know how to handle the heat. Maybe my style of dress makes them feel uncomfortable or intimidated. Who knows.

Honestly, listen up guys. I’m not saying you have to run with James Bond. I’m not telling you that GQ wants you prepped and ready to rock for their next cover. I’m not saying you have to be make Anna Wintour’s cut for the September issue. No, you do not have to go out and stock up on Brooks Brothers.

But you do have to step up to the plate, because you are reppin’ some heavy pedigree, whether you know it or not. Not only are you ashraful makhluqaat [the best of creation] but hell, you’re from the best of nations raised up for mankind, so act like it – as much as possible.

Stop dressing sloppily and stop expecting others to come down to your level. Step your game up, WAY UP. Do you know how disorienting it is to see a guy walking around dressed in britches that are a few sizes too big or too small for him? It makes an impact on how others’ perceive you, and the weight they give to your thoughts and opinions. It even makes a huge impact on how you present yourself. If you’re a Muslim, you damn better well be capable of being every bit the ambassador the rest of this world is looking for.

You have no excuse for not knowing your collar size. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t know what your waist and inseam sizes are. Yes, it is completely unacceptable to me to be in ruku’ next to you, and see that not only do your gray dress pants break twice at the ankle [they should break only once] but that someone has done a piss-poor job of hemming those pants with – ugh – white thread(?!!). Yes, it is completely unacceptable to me that your tie falls a few inches short of your buckle. What the hell? Why don’t you just go wear a baby bib then? You get the same effect! And it is unacceptable to me that you’re wearing sweat-and-shorba stained t-shirts to the masjid. Do you not have a washing machine? No? Go down to the laundromat you slob. And if you don’t have the time for that, then wash your clothes by hand, in the tub, with some detergent.

I make no excuses for my level of dress. My parents told me long ago that when God has blessed you with wealth [and we’re not rich, we’re smack dab middle class] then it should be seen on you. To do otherwise is a sign of ingratitude to Him. So if it looks nice, well-cut, sharp, and handsome then yes I will wear it. I don’t care if others are wearing it or not – that’s not the yardstick I use when I shop for clothes.  And neither should you. In your attire, as well as other areas of life, be a leader. If it is good and wholesome, then others will follow.

Make the commitment to set higher standards and then to increase them continuously.



Filed under: Exhaust, Gentlemen, Leadership, , ,

3 Responses

  1. UmmQ says:

    Awh did somebody hurt your feelings 😥

  2. maverick007 says:


    yes, I get offended when I see people dressing sloppily when I know for a fact that they could dress better.

    waaah waah wahhhh boo hoo

  3. widad says:

    for some reason, i feel less religious when i dress nicely.
    i don’t mean to say that i should look like a hijabi-bum in order to have high eman,
    but whenever i take the time to look especially spiffy, i feel as though i’m wasting my time, that i shouldn’t be too concerned with appearance.

    that’s just me, though.

    it’s true what you say, i’ve noticed muslims don’t really take a nice appearance into account.

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