Style isn’t just about what you wear. It’s about the way you carry yourself. What you say. How you act. I recently shared an elevator with a man who – despite being perfectly well-dressed – was nonetheless flagrantly out of style.
I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground when I say that riding an elevator with strangers is almost always awkward. Pretending to be riveted by the numbers lighting your journey up or down while trying to forget you’re stuck in a wire-suspended box with no exits.
What makes it more awkward? Staring. One morning last week, I stepped sideways into an elevator just as the doors were closing. The relief I felt at catching my ride quickly subsided, though, as a man in a tailored suit fixed his gaze on me for the next six floors up. Slurping a jumbo, sweating Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee, he stared intently at my chest. First with curiosity, then with unabashed glee. The slurping got louder.
I ran through my list of possible reactions. Should I say something? (“Hey – eyes up here buddy.”) Turn away? (But where, towards the wall?) In the end, I went with an old favorite: stare straight ahead and ignore this strange man.
As the doors opened, I prepared to make my escape. And then, he spoke.
“Roy G Biv?” he said.
“Roy G biv!” he said again. “Colors!” He pointed at my chest – more specifically, the silver pin the size of a quarter bearing the color spectrum abbreviation and sticking out of a buttonhole on my denim jacket.
“Oh…yeah,” was all I could manage before scooting out the doors without a look back.
Whether this man was trying to hit on me or just make conversation I can’t say, but he failed at doing either with style. The staring. The slurping. The pointing. (Did I mention the slurping?)
Below, a few lessons in style learned from Mr. Pin-Pointer to use in your next chance elevator encounter with a beautiful woman:
• Compliment quickly. This is no time for your long game. If you’re going to talk to a woman on an elevator, do it fast. You don’t have much time, and the longer you simply stare, the creepier you come off.
• Make your intentions clear. For heaven’s sake, don’t stare at a woman’s chest for any extended period of time. Even if she’s wearing an interesting necklace or pin, she may not remember she has it on. And honestly, you can’t expect her to assume you’re admiring her jewelry.
• Stop with the slurping already.