I walked into an exam room to see a new patient in my office.
The gentleman was 82, had thinning silver white hair and sharp blue eyes, shadowed by white bushy eyebrows.
"I am here to see Dr Chawla, the nurse already took my vitals," he said in a sharp, steely voice, before I had a chance to speak.
"I am Dr. Chawla," I said, rather apologetically.
I could see his disapproving look as he went over my attire. I wasn't wearing a suit, jacket or neck-tie.
"How can I help you?" I asked, and proceeded to examine him.
As he was walking out after the visit, he turned around and pointed his walking cane at me. "You seem to be a darn good doctor... but do something about your clothes."
"My clothes?" I asked.
"Look like a doctor, wear a suit or something," he said. "Look sophisticated."
"I'll try my best sir," I answered with a smile.
What makes us sophisticated? Is it about the clothes? Education and Intellect? Social interaction? Humility? Money? Definitely not the last one. Maybe its an amalgam of a bit of everything and some more. If it's just the clothing, I definitely won't make the cut!
Every section of society and every social circle sets up its unique threshold of crossing into their own world of "sophistication". We are all drawn towards that world instinctively as we grow in years. Consciously trying to be sophisticated rarely works. 'Growing older' is inevitable and cannot be stopped. 'Growing-up' is an option, and as we all know, some folks are reluctant to make that choice!
My work attire in the office has not changed, but here are some facts just to reassure my fellow physicians who are informal dressers like me. According to a recent poll, most older folks do prefer their physicians in a formal attire. The younger population (below 50) generally cares less about attire, and more about personality.
"Sophistication is not how you look in fancy clothes, but how the clothes look on you. Its not about how much expensive jewelry you carry on your body, but how you carry yourself. Its not about how much money you make, but how humble money has made you."