“Put ya arms up….Whew! Ya small.” 

As recently as two months ago, I knew about as much about black tie affairs as Katy Perry seems to know about actual Black people. 

 

Shadiness about my size aside, the Caribbean woman working at Macy’s was a life saver when I approached her with a specific, time-sensitive goal in mind: to find a tuxedo on a Tuesday and have it ready for a Saturday wedding. I had been given a three-month window to prepare, but naturally, I waited until the last minute to get everything done.

That would include getting it altered in time and finding whatever else in the hell one needs for a black tie affair. As recently as two months ago, I knew about as much about black tie affairs as Katy Perry seems to know about actual Black people. Even sadder was the fact that when everyone asked me my measurements, I didn’t have the slightest idea. The only measurements I can remember are “36-24-36” and that’s only important to a room full of old people at a cookout or a hole in the wall club.

One of my new favorite people ever, Nicole Richie, put it so eloquently on her VH1 show, saying, “I'm grown up, but I'm not like, a GROWN-up.” This philosophy is pretty true when it comes to how I tackle time management and general responsibility, but most certainly correct in assessing my preparedness and ability to dress for truly adult affairs. When you’re blessed with an invite to a wedding and various fancy people events, even if you’ve never been anywhere nicer than Olive Garden before, you know you better show up and put on some Meryl Streep type performance—looking and acting right immediately upon arrival.

I work primarily from home, a place where pants can be oppressive, and things like jackets, ties, and dress shoes don’t even enter the conversation.

Then again, even when it comes to invitations to speak at events less formal in dress code but still requiring a level that’s more than denim and a tee, I’m usually still ill-prepared and in a rush to find something to wear. This happened to me last year, and basically all I did was duplicate a look I wore to an internship interview several years prior. Luckily, no one in attendance was the wiser.

You see, I work primarily from home, a place where pants can be oppressive, and things like jackets, ties, and dress shoes don’t even enter the conversation. Even worse was that up until a year ago, I lived in Los Angeles – not exactly the place for dressing sharp and formal if you’re not attending an awards show. Yeah, damn me for not learning Final Draft well enough.

Regardless, it is a different time now.

Earlier this year, I turned 30 (don’t hold your applause), and though I give myself credit for certain accolades—like having never been arrested and knowing when to keep my alcohol levels in check…most of the time—my exposure to fanciness and all things classy-classy is limited to subscribing to the New Yorker (yes, I’m proud) and watching rich people act a fool in very nice clothing on Bravo and HBO.

Now, I’m being forced to contend with the reality that I’m entering a new stage in life, and it will require me to dress the part.

The people in my life are getting married at ages that preclude babies on the way and couple's therapy. Likewise, as someone who has been writing professionally for several years now, I’m being asked to go places where people who I grew up admiring will be in attendance. (You know, by people who know me for more than just writing about Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta...one of my greatest life achievements thus far, nonetheless).

With this reality comes the fact that when it comes to my aversion to looking the part of a grown-up, I have got to get over myself.

I will say, despite the piss poor preparation, I liked how I looked in the tuxedo. I liked the reactions to how I looked in the tuxedo. That lovely Caribbean woman should’ve quoted Trey Songz and deemed me “sample size,” but she came through in the clutch all the same. Thanks to her and these new happily married folks, I own a tuxedo now.

I’m proud of that. Still, I have to add other adult people things to my closet: suits, blazers, and the like. Oh, and I could probably learn how to tie a bowtie so I don’t have to ask other people to do it (as pictured). Eh, I’m in no rush for that, but at least I’m finally growing up…item by item.

Michael Arceneaux is from the land of Beyoncé, but now lives in the city of Master Splinters. Follow him at @youngsinick.