Whether you’re traveling to another country or simply walking to the grocery store down the street, it’s an easy and, some would say, courteous gesture to look presentable. By ‘presentable’ I mean this: if you by chance ran into someone who you wanted to date, get a referral or job from, or generally make a good first impression upon, you’d be dressed in a way that would contribute to that end more than detract from it.
It’s not costly. It’s not time-consuming. It’s simple. And here are the simple steps involved in How To Look Nice Without Really Trying:
- Wear a polo shirt instead of a T-shirt. Izod, Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, LL Bean, and Lands End all make polo shirts that sell at various price points at various times of the year (read: sales). Navy blue is the go-to color. Dark green and burgundy work. The 100% cotton fabric and solid construction of most polo shirts means you can toss them in the washer, run them through the dryer or hand them to dry, and then toss ’em on and go. Hit the polo with a quick iron if you want. They work well under a sweater or button down if it’s chilly. They represent you as a little more mature, and they’re more versatile than T-shirts.
- Wear cotton pants, chinos (or khakis) instead of denim jeans. Well-made khakis from Bill’s, Brooks Brothers, or Ralph Lauren are seldom inexpensive, but over the long haul, they are a value. Again, 100% cotton, washer/dryer friendly, and a quick iron gives you a crisp look. Brushed cotton pants in chocolate brown, tan, navy blue or olive offer you a variety of looks that are practical for the workplace and stylish for after-hours.
- Wear brown leather shoes instead of athletic shoes. Anything from Sperry Topsiders to Bass penny loafers is a big step up from sneakers (or trainers as they’re known in the UK). When you travel, brown leather shoes with rubber soles are the best of both worlds: your feet won’t hate you after walking the city for hours, and when you discover a charming cafe you want to dip into and rest for a moment, you’ll be presentable enough to do so without hesitation or embarrassment.
- Wear a sweater or light jacket instead of a hoodie. Two points here: on is the general comment that this choice will present a slightly more affluent image to the general public; the second is me being the Blunt White Guy in the Room: if you’re a non-caucasian male and you’re walking down the street, ditching the hoodie and dressing a little better might help you avoid unwanted attention from law enforcement. I don’t like saying it. I don’t like that it might be true. I don’t like the implications it has for police officers who treat everyone fairly but still get painted with a broad, unfair brush. I’d like the world to be a different place. However, in the interest of offering advice that will help readers do better in today’s world, I sometimes feel compelled to say uncomfortable things. I also rely on the readers of this blog to contribute their own well-considered opinions on the subject, as delicate as it might be.
In summary, make a little effort. Up your game. Dress better. For others. For yourself.