3-piece suit and bow tie – if you’ve ever seen me on stage, or online, or even in one of my books or podcasts, you’ve probably noticed I always wear this.
You may even have wondered why – many have asked that exact question.
So I thought it’s time to explain why, once and for all!
A few years ago while I was living and working in Bali, I realised that now I was stepping up a level in terms of stage presentations, I needed to look the part. I mean, t-shirt and shorts are fine in outdoor spaces in Bali, but not so suitable when on stage teaching 800 people hypnosis in Singapore!
Through a friend, I was introduced to a stylist in Sydney. I was visiting Australia in a few weeks anyway, so it made sense to spend the day with her to find a nice new suit.
Now, I’d always liked the idea of a bow-tie, the waistcoat, the full works. Never really knew why, but it always just appealed to me, although it was not something I’d ever worn. I always knew that a regular shirt and tie just felt wrong for me somehow.
Anyway, a few days before I was due to fly out, we had a chat via Skype to explore what I was looking for and to get some ideas. So of course I mentioned my love of the bow-tie and asked whether it might be something we could consider while we were shopping, although I still placed myself in my stylist’s hands – after all, she was the expert, and what’s the point in hiring an expert if you ignore them?
A few weeks later came the day of the Shopping Expedition itself.
I was, by this time, getting rather excited. I’d never hired a stylist before, never had a personal shopper, and never been to Sydney – all in all it was shaping up to be quite a day!
We met for a coffee and chat first, got to know each other a little more, then went shopping.
The day was quite the experience – as I mentioned a moment ago, I’d never had a personal shopper and stylist before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Thankfully it was a most enjoyable day, and we looked at quite a few absolutely exquisite outfits, some way beyond my price range but worth a look and a try anyway just for the experience.
By the end of the day, I am pleased to report that we had found a very nice 3-piece suit, bow-tie, and gorgeous shoes. Mission accomplished!
However, the most interesting bit was at the end of the day, when we were having a final farewell chat over a cocktail. (Because all good shopping expeditions deserve to be celebrated with a cocktail, don’t they?)
She told me about her initial impressions when we’d had our Skype chat right at the start. Apparently, when I’d mentioned I fancied a bow tie she inwardly groaned, making a mental note that she’d have to find a way to talk me out of that sort of thing as it wouldn’t look good.
And then we met for our pre-shopping coffee – she said that within 5 minutes of us chatting there in person, she not only realised that a bow tie would work for me – she quickly came to the conclusion that it was the only viable option, it captured me and my character entirely!
Which was lovely to hear.
And I’ve found that seems to be the case everywhere I go.
To me, wearing it feels perfectly natural – a conventional suit and tie just feels like a fake uniform to me personally (I know it can work for others, and good luck to them!), but when I am wearing this, I just feel that I am ME.I first realised this a couple of weeks later (19th July 2013, so my photo album tells me!), back in London, where I was speaking for GTeX at a venue in east London. At that time, I was staying with friends in Reading, west of London (as I was only visiting the UK for a couple of weeks), so after the event I had to take the tube across London to catch the last train home, which meant I had to rush. Which meant I forgot to change out of my 3-piece and back into “normal” clothes.
So there I was, on the tube, late at night, lots of people all around making their way home from the pubs, and I never even realised I was “dressed up” until nearly home, it just felt so comfortable and natural and, well, me!
I’m pleased to say that it certainly gets me recognised, it stands out, and it has very much become my brand. Even my logo was inspired by it.
On the rare occasion I don’t wear it to an online meeting or an in-person event, most people express disappointment!
So why do I wear a 3-piece and bow-tie?
Because it is me in a way no other clothing is.
Award-winning coach, international speaker, multi-time best-selling author, hypnotist, occasional magician, and writer of this post, Keith spent his first 40 years suffering from several phobias including being terrified of speaking with strangers. After one incident too many, he started studying and training in NLP & hypnosis to conquer his own issues, found he was rather good at it, and changed careers (aided by redundancy at just the right moment after 20 years in IT). He helps people transform their deepest fears into their greatest strengths, and having helped over 5,000 people across 5 continents, he is the UK’s #1 Fear Strategist.