Where I work there are several psychiatrists who wear corduroy suits. Most of them are consultants, but one or two are junior colleagues of mine. For the moment these pretenders are wearing a jacket only, which suggests the possibility that this is a disease that spreads from the top down.
Why? Oh why?
Not one to keep a gnawing question to myself, I was at an academic meeting when I decided to tackle one of our registrars on this subject. He’s normally got a sense of humour and so I thought I was on safe ground.
‘Do you own a corduroy suit?’ I ventured.
‘No’ he shot back. ‘Why’
‘Just wondering, it’s just that Dr X. has one and so does Dr Y, and I don’t think that they’re very cool’
He looked displeased. I realised that I had blundered; I didn’t dare talk to him again for the rest of the evening.
But, why in these days when psychiatrists might wish to be seen as approachable and patient centred, do we seek to distance ourselves from the rest of the human race by our penchant for such disastrous apparel?
The word is that people consider the corduroy is worn by ‘relaxed’ people. People who are approachable and trustworthy. They are non threatening and put people at ease.
So our taste for corduroy brings us closer to our patients. Which sounds pretty good, and maybe I’ll get one after all.
But it’s quite a lot for a suit to live up to.