I used to think that fashion was stupid, dressing up was for stiffs, and that society had gotten to the point where what you do and who you are matter more than how you look.
And then I started working.
Suddenly, all of that boring, corny stuff my parents used to say made sense.
You see, humans are visual beings, and first impressions are powerful things. There is science behind all of this, but I’m both a lawyer and a man who knows my limitations, so I won’t go down that rabbit hole here.
I have learned something else though: Second impressions matter too. And third. And fourth. And so on.
How you present yourself carries over not only into your business and personal relationships, but also in how you carry yourself.
Again, the explanatory science is out there. You have the Internet. Search amongst yourselves.
Me, I have trouble working if I’m not dressed up. I wear a suit and tie to work everyday, and have for the past eight years, even when the dress code at my workplace has been relaxed.
What kills me about this more than anything are the comments I get:
- “Aren’t you hot in that?”
- “It’s Friday, you know.”
- “Alex always look sharp…like a movie star.” (Someone actually said this to me)
And my favorite:
- “You’re making the rest of us look bad!”
To which I say, you’re making me look good. Thanks!
I have grown to like suits, three-piece suits, preferably. I enjoy classic cuts. Slim-fit shirts (another reason to work out). Simple ties. Three-button coats (when I can find them). And the humble fedora.
Listen people: I got my fedora before I knew that there was an Internet “thing” about them.
See, I love old movies from the “golden age” of Hollywood. I used to watch them with my dad. Let me tell you, seeing men like Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, and all of these other greats had a profound affect on me. And after my less-than dapper high school and college years, I rediscovered what it was about these legends that stuck with me:
You took them seriously.
I would also think this whenever I looked at pictures of my grandparents when they were young. Damn! Everybody looked so good.
This Boomer-driven thing of trying to stay forever young and competing with teenagers when you’re in your sixties strikes me as silly and a little creepy.
The cult of youth has done more harm than good. When you’re young, be young. But strive for growth. As I’ve said before, we’re all born dumb and spend our whole lives getting less dumb. Why be stagnant?
Why not have other people take you seriously?
And you know what else? When you dress well, you also take yourself seriously.
You carry yourself differently in a well-fitting suit than you do in gym shorts, or jeans and a t-shirt.
Or a romper…but the less said about those, the better.
So for work, I’ve found that dressing up helps in many ways, especially if you have a public- or client-facing position.
There are some expectations your customers have of you. And by living up to them, you sort of trick yourself into confidence.
It sounds hokey, and I used to think it was, but finishing up that tie and putting on my coat, getting into Bruce Wayne mode, all I can think is: “I’ve got this.”
And this is just at work. I’m not there yet, but a part of me thinks it must have been nice when people dressed up every day, everywhere they went.
Maybe someday you’ll see me walking down the street on a Saturday morning with the family in my three-piece suit and my chapeau of choice.
And check out my Instagram here.