I don’t believe that we as humans pay enough attention to what our dress says about us as a person; rather, we dress for the sake of it. For example, we don’t choose our clothes according to our feelings or attitudes in the morning. We don’t make sure we’re wearing something that speaks well of our personalities and character. In fact, we wear, at times, clothes that go against who we are as a person, and what we wear speaks volumes about who we are and people can judge us in a way we don’t want to be judged simply because of the outfit we chose to wear one day.

I have often seen people wearing clothes that indicated one thing about their character, but their voice indicated another. While a well-dressed person may seem to be confident, intelligent and successful, they might be completely the opposite, but their clothes speak differently of them. Sometimes the discrepancies are good and sometimes they are bad.

Now, it is also fair to say that what one wears isn’t important, as long as it isn’t ridiculous, but I would inform you that everyone makes judgments, whether spoken or unspoken. That judgment affects a person’s perception of you  even if it is minimal. It also weakens your ability to indulge in social engagements, for your words are then defending your appearance instead of your character. The way we dress is also a strong indicator of what and who we are. For instance, when someone expresses an interest in being a lawyer, we expect a certain level of professionalism in his or her dress. If we are faced with someone who looks like he just woke up, it’s easy to assume he lacks maturity and responsibility. Even if he is a highly intellectual individual, perhaps even the top of his class, wearing his pajamas won’t bode well for trying to find a client to represent.

Similarly, if a person puts on a collared shirt and smart-casual jeans for class, we respect him more as a person, without knowing him, than if he dressed in holey sagging jeans and a dirtied shirt. Also, if a person promoting an organization wore a suit, we would be likely to trust the integrity of this organization because of the way it was presented through this spokesperson.

My point is that, our choice of clothing speaks a lot about us, even if the messages coming across aren’t true. People don’t admit to passing judgments based on appearances because they don’t want to seem shallow, but trust and assumed compatibility are often based solely on the first impression. But how many of us would refuse to consult someone who dresses the way one would dress for a job interview? None, if any at all. On the other hand, why would we seek advice from someone wearing ripped jeans? Despite living in a liberated and accepted society, we all would trust a formally-dressed individual more than an informal one.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Yusef Rabbani at torch@valpo.edu.

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