Recently I had the pleasure of attending a conference.

Now this wasn't just any conference. It was one of those attended by my boss, her boss and those so far up above us all you have to squint hard to see them.

More importantly, it was the one where it's vital to make a good impression. And as befits such an important occasion a dress code was enforced. "Smart casual" no less.

For regular conference goers this would be nothing but a mere bump in the road to drive over. Just grab shirt A, put it with trousers B and shoes D and you're done.


But what about if your daily wardrobe consists of shorts A, singlet B and jandals C?

Hmmm. The word "dilemma" springs to mind.

Perhaps I should explain.

In years gone by I have attended conferences resplendent in appropriate suit, nice shirt and tie, correct shoes. Just about spot on, although I will admit to wearing a pair of socks with the toe poking out once. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has done that.

But I like to live on the edge. It's like making a stand and saying: I might look like a square conformist but underneath this handsome exterior I'm a rebel. I fly in the face of convention ... just don't ask me to take off my left shoe.

Anyway, these days I work from home. My attire consists of whatever I grab from the wardrobe on the short amble to my desk.

In summer it's normally shorts and a singlet. In winter I might add a jersey.

So you get the picture. My wardrobe is basic. Too basic for "smart casual" it seems.


Like any male I left my wardrobe decision till the last minute, believing that shirt I got the Christmas before last I've hardly worn and those trousers I bought at Farmers at the last two-for-one sale would do the trick.

Fortunately, Mrs P is an experienced hand at matters of the wardrobe and she stepped in with some appropriate advice.

She remembered, she said, when I'd bought those trousers.

I had described them as "target" trousers. The plan was I'd easily lose weight and be able to get into them eventually.

Sadly, dear reader, the humidity or something in our wardrobe affected the said garment and they'd shrunk considerably. Ahem.

Likewise my shirt selection was not really "smart casual", she said. Apparently more "grandad's wardrobe 1937".

So, Mrs P delved into the dark recesses of the wardrobe, fought off a Lion and a Witch, and re-emerged a while later with a nice shirt and appropriately matched trousers.

I didn't even know I had them but I had to admit I felt good as I paraded my ensemble up and down the lounge.

Mrs P uttered not a word as she sat thoughtfully in my chair, the one I usually lounge in during similar occasions when she's the one testing all the outfits before we go out.

The similarities were uncanny, I thought, as I asked whether I should wear the brown shoes or the black ones.

Black would suggest professional. No nonsense. On top of my game, I reasoned. But then again, maybe black shoes would suggest I'm too strong. A bully. A thug. A right "A"-hole, perhaps.

After several changes I settled for dark brown. Firm but fair. An "A"-hole with a heart. Perfect, I thought, as I offered myself up for the umpteenth time for Mrs P's opinion.

I stopped myself saying "I don't want to look like a tart" but I knew there had been some major shift in time and space as I checked out my complete "smart casual" look in the mirror and uttered the words that will be familiar to all men.

"Does my bum look big in these?"

Kevin Page has been a journalist for 34 years. He hasn't made enough money to retire after writing about serious topics for years so he's giving humour a shot instead.