“Dress for the job you want!”
This classic adage has been repeated to younger generations wanting to advance in their respective careers by elders, mentors, and teachers. Dressing in a professional manner has always been thought to have major effects on the way you are perceived, not just in the workplace, but in life. If this is the case, why does there seem to be a growing trend of disheveledness throughout people’s appearances on a daily basis?
In the last 100 years, society’s sense of fashion and “what looks good” has changed drastically. We’ve moved from a time where men wouldn’t be caught in public without a sharp button down shirt and jacket and women without a stylish dress and hair kept pristine. People took pride in the way they looked, even when venturing on basic outings such as a trip to the grocery store or going out to eat with friends.
However, today, it is not uncommon to see individuals dragging themselves into stores with hair unkempt and wearing a stained, loud t-shirt from a concert, surf shop, or athletic tournament paired with baggy sweatpants. Some may opt to wear the not-so-stylish combination of athletic shorts, white Nike socks that are pulled halfway up the calves, and a beaten up pair of Sperrys.
Fashion faux pas have made their way into socially unacceptable events, such as professional theatrical productions. Going to see a show on Broadway used to be an event that held individuals to high expectations in apparel. Men wearing ties and jackets would arrive arm-in-arm with women wearing long, slender gowns. Now, it is not uncommon to see people wearing ripped jeans, tank tops, shorts, beat up sneakers, and other casual or damaged clothing to these events.
Making any of these decisions when dressing yourself is hurting the way people view and treat you. These appearances give off a lazy and dirty, “I don’t care” vibe. Instead of gaining respect when entering a job interview, nice restaurant, or Broadway theatre, you are exposing yourself to the possibility of dismissal and disrespect from those around you.
Not only do the clothes you wear affect how you are perceived by others, but also the way you carry yourself throughout life. According to Karen J. Pine’s book “Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion,” people usually adapt characteristics associated with different types of clothing. For example, one of her subjects stated, “If I’m in casual clothes, I relax and am tomboyish, but if I dress up for a meeting or a special occasion, it can alter the way I walk and hold myself.”
Dressing nicely, however, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to dress up for every occasion. Having a casual style isn’t a bad thing, as long as it is done tastefully. There is still a way to look great and put together without being in a suit or elegant dress.
If you’re a guy, you may want to invest in some plain colored shorts, long sleeved t-shirts, casual button downs, and jeans. Yes, you read that correctly – jeans. There seems to be a negative opinion towards jeans today, but if the right pair is bought, you’ll look clean cut and feel comfortable.
If you’re a girl, something as simple as a nice buttondown, a light sweater, and a pair of jeans goes a long way for pulling off a trendy, but casual style. Sticking with simple boots or low heels is also a great alternative to the unnecessary high heeled shoe.
Overall, staying away from graphic t-shirts with loud colors and writing, athletic shorts, and baggy hoodies and sweatpants will help you maintain a strong, professional appearance and to take pride in your apparel. By taking pride in yourself as a creative and unique individual, you send a positive message to everyone around you, but most importantly, you boost your own happiness and confidence.
Zachary Miller is a Media Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.