Editor’s Note: This post is from our new Art of Manliness style contributor Antonio Centeno. Antonio is president of A Tailored Suit, maker of quality custom clothing. Please give Antonio a warm Art of Manliness welcome.
Thanks to Cathe Holden for the image.
Clothes make the man.Naked people have little or no influence on society ~Mark Twain
Perhaps you’ve heard the following:
“The days of wearing a suit are gone.”
“Casual Friday? It’s casual week around here. No one cares how you dress.”
“Appearances are irrelevant, only results matter.”
All of these statements ignore the fact that people have and will continue to judge you by your appearance.The harsh reality is that we make decisions about people within the first 3 seconds of meeting them; we then spend the next 90 seconds trying to confirm our first impressions.This means that before you even open your mouth you’ve been sized up and profiled. Knowing this, a person should always dress neatly, professionally, and appropriately.The fact is you never know who you are going to meet; at anytime you may run into a potential client, a future employer, or for those singles out there, the love of your life. And like it or not, they are going to form their initial impression of you based off of how you look.
Over the next few months I’m going to be writing quite a few articles on men’s style and grooming.But before getting started, I wanted to make the case for why you should care about your personal appearance.We live in a society that overall tends to dress down; our national uniform is a pair of jeans and t-shirt.If you care about your appearance and take action to improve it, you will stand out from the crowd.But that’s not a bad thing.
How Your Personal Appearance Affects You
The transformation effect
One of the powers of clothing is that it can transform an individual’s state of mind. Dress like a professional businessman and you’re more likely to act like a professional businessman. Taking a test soon? Students report that they perform better when they dress-up for an exam.Feeling sick in the morning? Women have used the power of dressing-up to shrug off sickness for years.The transformative effect is powerful and instantly effective; what’s most amazing is that so few people use it.
Dressing professionally improves self discipline
From the Roman Legion to the United States Marine Corps, the world’s finest militaries have known that sharp dressed soldiers are more disciplined than ragtag militias.Military dress inspections have persisted not because shiny boots win wars, but because the exercise teaches a military force to pay attention to the details. And it’s in the details that battles are won.
In the same way, a person who dresses professionally learns the value of self discipline.They learn that planning and allotting enough time are paramount for consistent results.They prepare for the day by thinking through it, anticipating their needs, and taking the proper steps to ensure they can meet the challenge. A disciplined dresser can arrange his outfit to meet his needs from 8AM to midnight, from office to presentation to drinks after work.
Appreciation and respect
Properly clothing yourself takes time; shirts need to be ironed, shoes shined, and jackets brushed.Perhaps the greatest lesson this teaches is to respect the effort put forth by our fellow human beings.When you meet another well dressed man you give him an extra measure of respect because of his outfit; you notice the perfect dimple in his tie and appreciate it because it took you 15 minutes and 5 attempts to perfect your own. Mutual respect between gentleman is garnered when they recognize the efforts each has put forth.
How Your Appearance Affects Others
The power of visuals
Numerous communication studies have demonstrated the power of visuals in human interaction.Some studies have shown that visual cues are 3X to 5X as powerful as audio cues.With clothing covering 90% of your body, it can’t be stressed enough as to how important a role it plays in how you are perceived by others.Want faster & better service in a restaurant?Look like you have money and wear a navy blazer.Want to increase your chances for an A on a college presentation? Wear a sports jacket and pair of slacks.Want instant credibility in a business environment?Wear a suit when making the pitch or meeting with management.
Made within a few seconds, first impressions are powerful and should not be taken lightly. We often observe a person before we speak with them, and being human we look to make sense of what our eyes are showing us.Using our personal experiences, we categorize individuals; we pick-up on a key feature that has meaning to us and then associate that person with it. If what you are wearing is doing all the talking for you, make sure it is sending the message you want.
The power of colors and patterns
Colors and patterns are very powerful; certain ones grab our attention, some accentuate our natural tones, and others affect our emotions.When choosing colors and patterns a man should first understand which ones work for him and which ones do not.Next, he needs to determine what message he wants to send.A man decked out in a pin-striped navy blue suit, blue shirt with white contrasting collar and cuffs, and a red tie screams power and authority.A man wearing a solid brown suit with an earth tone shirt and light colored tie signals trust and openness.Both men were wearing suits, but two very different messages were being conveyed.
Influence and authority
Image from Silver Feast
Former San Francisco 49er Coach Mike Nolan fought to wear a business suit on the sidelines during football games.One of the reasons for this was that he wanted to make it easy to spot the man in charge.The men’s suit, whose heritage stems from military garb, was designed to highlight a man’s strengths.When cut properly and made with a fabric that compliments the wearer, it signals authority and commands attention. But this is only the tip of the iceberg – a policeman’s uniform, an airline pilot’s clothing, a doctor’s white jacket – all of these garments assure us that the person we are dealing with is an authority in their field.
Well dressed people are given a leg up in many respects – they are often perceived as being smarter, funnier, and more enjoyable to be around.Taking this a step further, dressing professionally can help you appear more important to the success of your company and may even help you hold onto your job.Assuming all other factors being even, who does management let go – the technician who dresses well and can be put in front of a client or the guy who doesn’t own a suit.In this current economic downturn, every small detail matters.
Is It Manly to Care About Your Appearance?
A few examples of manly men who cared and continue to care about their appearance:
Dwayne Wade – Does an excellent wearing suits cut to compliment his height; he also is very good at coordinating his pocket squares with his ties
Winston Churchill – He loved the “puff” pocket square and knew how to wear a polka dot bow tie.
Image from Archie
Sean Combs – P. Diddy has modernized classic style for a whole generation of young men.He wears a 3-piece suit masterfully, and pays homage to the great dressers before him. His clothes add to his commanding presence and charismatic personality.
Ronald Reagan – Always dressed smartly in clean cut power suits that accentuated his shoulders; he also loved cuff links.
You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in our fast paced society a book’s cover can be just as important as its content.Of course appearances are not everything; you have to perform well to succeed.But in a competitive world it pays to understand the importance of your clothing and grooming. Investing the proper resources into your personal presentation will multiply your ability to succeed.