While it’s true that ‘clothes don’t make the man,’ clothes do make the man’s, or woman’s, first impression. We all know what we should wear, and what not to wear, when we want to make a good impression.
But how often do we think about it?
Whether we like it or think it is phony, our physical appearance is a form of communication. A trim and fit body says, “I take care of myself.” A well-dressed one says, “I care about my appearance.” People who want to fit in choose conventional, traditional clothing while those who want to show their creativity choose trendy clothing. Those who want to show their independence or unconventionality may embrace fads, or even engage in costume dressing.
For instance, fans of NCIS are familiar with Abby Sciuto’s unending array of statement outfits. Miley Cyrus shredded her angelic Hannah Montana image with her costume and made the word twerking part of our lexicon.
We all make statements with the clothes we wear, but most of us choose to not speak so forcefully or as dramatically as either of these.
Sometimes people engage in clothing subterfuge to create false impressions. High-flying, shady businessmen dress in traditional suits to say, ‘you know me, you can trust me, I’m like you.’ Business casual dress codes are an attempt to foster an egalitarian workplace, ‘we’re all just alike,’ even as the gap between the CEO and the average employee (not the lowest paid) has risen to 204 to 1.
Whether we wear conventional or trendy styles, whether we dress to the nine’s, choose to wear low-hanging baggy pants that threaten a wardrobe malfunction with any sudden wrong move, or put on heels so steep that we injure our feet and back and risk traumatic injury in a fall, our clothes speak for us.
Dressing well can say ‘I belong’ when we may feel like we really don’t. Dressing down, below the norm for the circumstances, can say, ‘I don’t respect others.’
What we wear can lead others to make assumptions about who we are and how we act and therefore how they should respond or interpret a relationship with us.
What do your clothes say about you? Do they tell others you respect yourself and them? That you are conservative? A risk-taker? You value quality, or thrift?
Whatever your clothes communicate about you, are they sending the message you want sent?
Life Is Honest, Open and True: We know that what we wear makes a difference in how people initially assess us and how they respond to us. We know what not to wear when we want to make the right impression. Just for fun, try dressing up to run weekend errands, and dressing down (way down) next time you’re going to a place where fine clothes are the norm. See how people communicate with you, or if they do.
Thanks to my reader who wrote and suggested this story idea to me. If you have an idea you’d like me to address, please let me know by email or in the comment box below.