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August 20, 2014

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THE B.S.:

Bruce Spotleson: Summer in Vegas is no time for suits and ties

Sartorial common sense wins when it’s summer in the desert.

Bruce Spotleson

Bruce Spotleson

VEGAS INC Coverage

It’s already 92 degrees outside when you begin to think about what you’ll be wearing on this workday. Women are not alone in that challenge, you know, although men don’t seem to go through the whole shoes thing.

If a guy had his choice this time of year, he might put on a still suit, the invention of novelist Frank Herbert in Dune, the 1965 science fiction classic. Intended to preserve human life on a harsh desert planet, a still suit was designed to capture and recycle all body moisture and fluids, filtering out the impurities to create drinkable water that could keep the person wearing it alive indefinitely.

But wait, that hasn’t been invented yet.

So you move on, checking the schedule that lies ahead, and it reminds you that you’re scheduled for a day of important outside-the-office meetings, one with an attorney and another with a banker.

As you glance out the window into the toasty summer glare, the day’s first question arises: Isn’t it too hot for a suit and tie?

A lesson from an old management book comes to mind, the chapter about how reflective behavior and basic similarities can improve the odds of success in a business meeting. But following this strategy means guessing correctly as to what your counterparts will be wearing, regardless of whether they are customers, prospects or adversaries.

Thinking of the folks on the schedule, you make the call, deciding to prepare for the worst. No untucked short-sleeved shirts today. Nope. You’re playing a game you know how to win, and you go for the striped tie and gray suit, because that’s the sort of thing the attorney and banker always wear.

As the blazing sun moves higher in the sky, it feels a little crazy to button the shirt up all the way. And you wince as you put the tie around your neck and cinch it tight. There are a few theories on how this piece of clothing came to be, but you know it could not have been dreamed up by anyone living in a desert.

Finally, you grab the suit coat as you head out into the furnace that engulfs the landscape.

By the time the morning meeting arrives, you’ve had a couple of good sweats, the first a result of daring to drink hot coffee while your upper torso is wrapped so tightly, the second when you start your car.

The attorney walks into the room, and it’s immediately apparent that you’ve guessed wrong for this meeting. He’s surprisingly got the Banana Republic thing going, one of those Hawaiian-type prints hanging over his slacks, a seasonal style that makes a lot more sense than your own. Sigh.

Your host inquires about your suit and tie and you hem and haw around, saying you have a more formal meeting later. Soon, you are back in the solar oven that is your vehicle, feeling the refreshing chill of perspiration on your back as you maneuver to your next appointment.

You park the car and carry the coat across the parking lot to the restaurant, where you again put it on. The banker is prompt for lunch, because he’s a banker. But wait: No suit coat or tie for him, either, and he is positively giddy about the fact that instead, he’s wearing a simple golf shirt with his company logo on it.

You ask if maybe he’s going golfing. No, he says. It’s too warm for a suit and tie, he tells you. You don’t tell him that you thought bankers always wear suits and ties, because he has just proven that incorrect.

He asks if you’re going to a funeral. No. You hem and haw around, saying you have a more formal meeting later.

Still, things go OK, and you are soon back in the scalding automobile, thankful for the support of Old Spice’s “high endurance” line of antiperspirants. It’s well into three digits as you return to the office, a fatigued survivor of the desert, and you pull off the tie as you head back.

A co-worker asks about the suit as you ride the elevator back to the office. The office comedian, he inquires as to whether you had to attend a funeral.

Yes, you say. I’ve just buried some clothing that doesn’t make sense these days. It’s summer in Southern Nevada, when reasonable fashion choices should prevail, and it’s simply no time for suits and ties.

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