Not too long ago, one of our longtime contributors (The Salty One) forwarded a link to an insightful and timely article by well-known columnist George F. Will.
You can read it HERE.
Mr. Will makes a few good points. He bemoans the creeping 24/7 casual nature of dress today. He notes the reverse-snobbery of a tech billionaire who conducts business in T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Perhaps most importantly, he points out that not all occasions are created equal: dressing up is a sign of respect, for others and for the event, ritual, or venue.
I’d like to add that I’ve met more than a few ‘always ever-so-casual’ people. What I’ve realized is that many times it’s not that they don’t want to dress well; often, they don’t know how to dress well.
Like all of us, they’re bombarded with advertising and influencers, the latest trends and must-have accessories, logos and brand hyper-awareness. They become like a deer in the headlights: paralyzed with indecision, unable to move, or in this case, choose. Not wanting to look foolish, not knowing who to listen to or dress like, in the end, they decide to not make an effort as a safe fallback position.
In fairness, the result is not always terrible. Some people (especially Parisians) opt to wear black as a default wardrobe choice. It’s simple, economical, and, for better or worse, does not communicate anything about the wearer. Wearing all black all the time can be tedious to friends and family if accompanied by a cynical, seen-it-all attitude, and certainly uncomfortable during the summer…and perhaps at weddings.
Most of the time, however, neglecting one’s wardrobe out of fear, disinterest, or ignorance is not helpful. And I say ‘not helpful’ because I’m first and foremost a pragmatic person. Choices must, in the final analysis, work on a daily basis. Clothing choices are best when they are functional, comfortable, versatile, and economical. The ‘message’ they communicate to others is equally important, as we are judged by others often by our appearance, and clothing is a large part of that.
We discuss this topic often here, but it’s worth repeating: dressing appropriately is key. It sends a nonverbal but potent message to others about you and how you feel about yourself. It also sends an often subconscious message to you, about you, and how you’re going to behave and perform on a given day.
Teachers will tell you that students behave better when dressed for ‘photo day’ or more formal school events. Productivity is increased, even when working at home, when workers dress professionally. Clothing works ‘from the outside in’, making us a creature of our uniform, as Napoleon once said. Our identity and self image is polished, if not sculpted, by our daily choice of garments.
I’m going to refrain from putting a label on the optimum way to dress. ‘Preppy’ as been corrupted in recent years and ‘Old Money Style’ is my favorite, but might be a little ‘old fogey’ for someone in their 20s. (Fear not, you’ll come around.)
So I’ll simply leave you with a request.
Make an effort. Give it some thought. Show some respect, for yourself and others.