Vancouver has a reputation for being laid back. People like to walk around the seawall, jog or cycle in Stanley Park, sit on the beach, and get stoned. I disagree that they are laid back, though. They may dress casually, but they can be as uptight as anyone else.
When I wore a tie for a passport photo the other day, I made a point of covering it with my scarf when I was outside. Believe it or not, there are people here who will give you a hard time or dirty looks if you wear a suit and/or tie.
I have actually been confronted and threatened on one occasion. Another time, a flip-flop wearing woman passing in the opposite direction looked me up and down and gave me an incredulous look, like she’d never seen a suit before. Well, excuse me for having a job interview and making an effort. It seems the laid back Vancouverite is often actually a reverse snob who thinks he or she is a better person than the suit wearer.
I’m as casual as anybody else. I sit around my home in sweats or jeans with stubble on my face if I don’t have to be anywhere or face the world. I where my day hikers for walking around town day to day. I’ve got hoodies like anyone else.
I don’t dress any more formally than necessary. But, there are some occasions when it is appropriate to where a tie, or even a suit. I actually have suits and ties for those occasions and I don’t apologize for it. And, I expect to not be given any hassle over it.
Sometimes laid back Vancouverites make me feel less than relaxed.