Dressing Sense is a subject that can go either which way with its palatability depending on the stance one takes. Dressing has evolved over a period of time and it keeps evolving as well. Fashions change, styles change and we keep adapting to those changes that happen around us. With Season, and with a reason, one changes one’s way of dressing. Of course, there are many people for whom dressing is just a way to cover their bodies and for others, it could be a matter of living. None of us can conclude that either of the stances is inappropriate.
Having said that the world looks at a person’s exterior to begin with. In my experience, people judge a person based on the way one is dressed on many occasions. Let us not get into the debate about what is right for us. The fact is, until someone knows the person, s/he is likely to go by the observable facts to decide their own course of behavior. To the person it would be the right way to choose one’s behavior towards another. Observable behaviors make people define their own interactions and the intensity thereof.
Well, until I came of age, I also was one of those kids who dressed for the heck of it without any sense of style, likes, or dislikes. Not that it is far superior now but I am better. As years rolled by, an awareness of my surroundings built within. I came to know about the birds and the bees (so to speak). My emphasis on clothing improved. Something within me pushed me to dress to impress the opposite sex to begin with. As I grew older, I began to realize that my way of dressing made a difference to my interactions, above all, to my level of confidence.
Based on my exterior, to a certain extent, people’s responses towards me changed. Much later while studying business, I felt the need to present myself a particular way at school. Thus, began a journey of learning and discovery by thinking about dressing formally for presentations. I started noticing the difference in people’s behavior with others at restaurants, hotels, airports, and of course, offices. A thought cemented that until one knows the person, s/he would usually look at various aspects of that person to decide his/her level of interactions. One would look at a person’s behavior, facial expressions, gestures, speech and last but certainly not the least, the attire, or the dress.
In the corporate world and through interactions with people from various walks of life, I have gathered some insights into ways in which we can leverage from our own way of dressing. There are advantages and of course, there are pitfalls. My intent is to share these thoughts with you so that you join me in facilitating the importance of dressing to others around. However, let us first look at some of the Myths about dressing and the reality associated with each of these.
Myth 1: One’s dress does not matter to anyone
Simply put, it matters! It matters a lot! When one moves around, especially at work or outside of work, it is not necessary that one would interact with people who know each other well all the time. In fields such as Sales, Marketing, Business Development, HR, Public Relations, one meets unknown people all the time. In today’s fast paced world, it is unfortunate but true that people neither have the time nor the inclination to understand the person within. They purely go by the exterior of a human being or a professional and make their judgments. In situations such as these one’s dress/clothing can facilitate in creating a positive first impression. Now, let us understand that one’s dress is not the sole criterion by which a person would judge another but it is certainly one of the criteria that would be applied. Therefore, one’s dress is important in the larger scheme of things. As we go along, we shall talk about appropriate dress code for all.
Myth 2: A well-dressed person can impress anyone
Not really! As I said earlier, while dress is important, one needs to exhibit knowledge, confidence, candor and an ability to connect with another as well. Mere dressing can impress someone but momentarily. Unless of course, one is working in a field such as fashion, performing arts, or if one holds an image in society, dress would not go a long way in giving a person mileage for sure.
Myth 3: Expensive, branded clothing is a must in being presentable
This is certainly not true. Many people believe that expensive, branded clothes are great in creating an impression on another person’s mind. Be it during occasions, or be at work, I think what matters the most is the presentability of one’s clothing. Your clothes can be non-branded but if they are washed well, ironed well and look prim and proper on a person, they are bound to create a positive impression. I personally think that one needs to wear clothes one is comfortable in. We all must look at our affordability as well. However, it is easy to maintain the clothes we wear.
It is also important to remember that in order for us to present ourselves, our clothing needs to be well washed, ironed and clean. A crumpled shirt; however expensive it might be; is not going to look good or presentable for sure. One must acknowledge this fact. Many of us tend to wear the same set of clothing several times before we wash that clothing. However, it is important to note that all of us sweat and all of us have a body odor. If we do not wash our clothing regularly, that piece of clothing would tend to smell. Without intending to sound condescending, it is a good habit to put up your clothes for washing if used once.
Myth 4: Only few people need to dress well
I hear this from many people. In fact, it surprises me because the comment does not necessarily come from a particular gender. Men as well as Women have said the same thing to me. However, I beg to differ on this one big time. I think one needs to dress well for oneself first. Everyone’s definition of dressing well is bound to be different. When I urge people to dress well, I never refer to the fabric, color or cost of that clothing. All I say is one’s clothing needs to reflect one’s personality. So it does not matter if one wears cotton or silk or gold, as long as one is comfortable in that attire. If you are presentable, you are dressed well.
One needs to look presentable in a situation. When people look at a person, they should feel like walking up to that person to strike a conversation. One’s clothing also reflects one’s personality, they say. I believe in that for sure. On many occasions, one would be expected to wear a certain kind of clothing. For example, if there is a wedding happening, one would be expected to wear clothes that represent happiness, celebration. Therefore, the clothing would typically reflect that spirit. However, if one were to attend a funeral or a condolence meeting, it is best to avoid bright clothes.
I also feel that if one is expected to attend a function where one does not know people too well and one ought to be present there, I would say it is better to over-dress than under-dress. Let me give you an example, you are invited at someone’s house for a house warming party, a social get together but you have never been there and you don’t know people there, it is better to wear slightly more formal clothing even if it looks as if you are over-dressed.
Myth 5: More fashionable you are, the better it is
Today’s youth works on implementing latest fashion trends in their lives. At one level it is nice to know that they are conscious about their presentability but on the other hand, one must know that everything does not look good on everyone. Some clothes look good on people who are slim where as some clothes look better if one is slightly stout. One must know one’s body type so that it becomes easier to wear a variety of clothing. Being fashion conscious is not a must. Being presentable in whatever you are wearing is beneficial for everyone.
Myth 6: Colors and Fabric do not matter
Colors and fabric matter. All colors do not look good on everyone. One must know ways in which one can choose colors that they would like to wear to enhance their personality. One must consider season, one must consider skin color before choosing a color to wear. For example, if you have a skin color that is on the darker side, it is advisable to use colors that are light or pastel. It is bound to flatter your personality. If one is fair complexioned, one can wear bright colors. As I mentioned earlier, it is advisable to consider the occasions before choosing colors to wear as well.
In today’s world, a variety of fabric is available for the consumer. However, certain fabric does not absorb sweat easily. Therefore, it is important to choose fabric accordingly as well. It is prudent to pay attention to the season. For example, in summer, use cotton. In winter, use woolen clothes. Synthetic fabric if worn in summer will not absorb sweat; leading to terrible body odor. One must keep this at the back of one’s mind.
Types of Dressing
Formal: This usually means a dress pant and a dress shirt, formal shoes and at times, a neck tie as well as a blazer or a suit.
Semi-formal: Just a dress shirt and a dress pant with formal shows.
Business casual: A trouser (cotton, pleated or un-pleated), with casual shirts usually with collar.
Casual: Casual clothing would mean a pair of jeans and a t-shirt
Ethnic: This type of clothing is where one wears clothes from the region one comes from. It could be traditional clothing as worn by men and women of that region.
By now, each of us must have got an idea about one’s clothing and its impact on the quality or the type of interactions we might have. Once again, while clothing is not the sole criterion for anyone to decide the quality and type of one’s interaction, it is certainly something that contributes to the first impression. All of us know that the first impressions last long. I encourage you to mull over this a little bit so that you are able to modify (if you choose to) your ways of dressing.