Monday, March 4, 2013

Why Care? - My Manifesto

As I keep encouraging any readers to take the time to learn how to dress well and look better in your day to day life, it’s good to remember why I have found this to be so important. As someone who just a year ago was wearing square-toed comfort loafers, baggy pants and ill-fitting shirts as my ‘business casual’ uniform, I can confidently tell you that making this change will make a positive difference in your life. This section may come across as a little ‘life-coachy,’ so, yeh, sorry, but I’m right. I hate preaching or telling people what to do to make their lives better (like I know what I’m talking about), but I place my faith in this principle whole-heartedly. So how does dressing well make your life better?

The first way is a simple one that your wallet (those damn, tight wallets) will appreciate. As you start caring more about what you are wearing, you start to take better care of your clothes. Ever since I started to actually like the clothes I bought, I paid a lot more attention to the washing instructions, I learned to shine my shoes, I bought hangers that wouldn’t ruin my clothing, I found gentler stain removers, I bought woolite and started washing my sweaters by hand. Before, I didn’t give a shit and would just toss it all in the laundry and hope that most of it would come out in wearable condition.

To move closer to a personal level, you also take better care of your clothes while you are wearing them, and in turn take better care of yourself. My slob factor dropped when I started wearing nice clothes and I starting conciously avoiding messy foods, grass stains, salt stains in the winter, and was more careful to steer clear of snags and other damaging factors. As a result, I was looking and acting a lot more like an adult (which is an important transition to start making after you graduate college)!

Beyond the practical lies so much more. The biggest, biggest thing is your confidence. I am huge believer in the idea that confidence gets you everywhere in life (or nowhere, if you lack it). Whether it be scoring with the opposite sex or landing that dream job, either is so much more attainable if you believe you can attain it (see what I said about getting all life-coach on you folks? Deal with it! See, I’m confident haha).

It’s simple, once again. Dress nice, and you feel good about the way you look. You carry yourself more confidently, present yourself to those around you just a little bit more boldly, and people will notice. People talk about you, they comment on your clothes, and you just stand out from the crowd a bit (once again, in a world run by competition, this is never a bad thing). Then YOU notice the difference, and the confidence just keeps growing. You start to act more important, and are more confident in knowing what you want and making sure you get it. The big point here is that, when you first start to make the change, you may not feel like you fill those proverbial shoes of the dapper man, but you will grow into it, and it feels good!

And I will attest, people really do notice. I really have noticed this change make a tangible difference on several specific occasions.

For example, a few weeks ago our Administrative Executive traveled to our office in Chicago (yep, I have a day job). I had the chance to meet him and introduce myself and chat a bit, but only very briefly. After he left, my manager pulled me aside and told me that the Executive had specifically told her how impressed he was with me. Now, I do think I am good at my job, and (clothing aside), present myself well, but in that short of a span, I guarantee that a big reason I stood out to him was the fact that, even in a law firm, I am one of the few people that comes to work in a tie, everyday. Not only that, but my clothes are well coordinated, fit well, and convey general ‘put-together-ness’ into my overall appearance. If you look like you are an important person, people tend to treat you that way, regardless of your actual position.

Another example: Just today, I was part of a panel interviewing some new potential employees at my place of business. Both candidates were well put together and had similar resumes, but the one guy came in looking sharp, and therefore looking (and probably feeling) more confident (I think he even mentioned his tie at one point, which shows he was aware of his attire and knew that we noticed as well). By no means would I reccomend hiring someone based just on their suit, I did immediately like that guy, and paid more attention to what he had to say. And I would DEFINITELY not hire someone if they looked like a schlub - if you are that careless about something so basic as your clothing, how careless will you be on the job? If you care that little about the way you present yourself to the world, are you going to care about the you present you workplace or company to the rest of the world? First impressions are as important as everyone says, and it helps to come accross as someone who really knows and appreciates that.

Lastly, probably the most immediately enjoyable bonus, is you are gonna have to learn how to react to being complimented (and often)! And I hope this is something no one is upset about having to be used to. If you are, you should probably be following a different blog (or I need to seriously reconsider my fashion taste).

I’ll wrap it up with the final testament that, as I started writing this, I planned on making one of my short blurb-ish posts, and it turned into this rambling edict purely because I kept thinking of more and more reasons that I am glad that I finally started putting some effort into my clothes and appearance, both professionally and casually. It’s a neverending list, and I’d love to hear some of your reasons….let me know what you think! Why do you care about how you look? Why do you think it’s important to care?

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