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  • Writer's pictureGena Martine Santoni

You Are What You Wear

Clothes. So many choices! Colors, textures, styles. What’s in and what’s out. The latest craze. Some dress for comfort, others for impact, but there’s one thing we all have in common. People are going to judge us (gasp!) by our appearance. It’s true. No getting around it.

But, that’s not right! People shouldn’t do that. After all, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Just because someone is pierced like a sieve or has enough tattoos to signal a passing navy ship doesn't mean they aren’t the nicest most intelligent and benevolent specimens of human beings on the planet.

Which is true, of course. But dressing one way, and expecting to be treated another is not very logical - or fair. The dresser is telling the world how to perceive him. And yet, someone may advertise himself to the entire world with an appearance that says, “I’m an angry, anarchistic, trend-bucking punk rocker,” and then have the nerve to get upset when people think he’s an angry, anarchistic . . . Hel-LO!

It’s not really that people are being “judgmental” in that negative way. Not most of the time. It's that they are taking people at face value. It’s actually the opposite of prejudging. They are trusting people to represent themselves truthfully. So, if you dress and talk and walk like an inner-city gang-member, or like a celebrity-obsessed Hollywood wannabe, well, guess what?

Whether its a too short skirt, a spiffy suit, a bare midriff, sagging jeans, lots of black eyeliner, or a cashmere cardigan, we are the ones choosing to give a certain image. I’m not talking about how expensive - or not - your clothes are, but rather about what they imply about you. Our clothes tell people who we think we are - or would like to be. Ever heard the adage: Dress for the job you want?

Some people might think they are above such shallow judgements. But in truth they occur in blink of an eye. If this principle did not hold, then how is it that we instantly recognize what people are going for at a costume party? Is it difficult to recognize the Nerd? The Billionaire Tycoon? The Cowboy? The Movie Starlet? The Hippie? Our clothes paint a picture about us worth a thousand words - whether we like it or not.

So the question is: How do you want the world to see you? And the next question is: what is the appropriate attire for this or that place, activity, or group of people? Then you put the two answers together so you look like yourself - impeccably. Let the world know you respect yourself and the world will respond accordingly. You have much more control over other people’s perceptions than perhaps you are aware. Choose wisely and reap the benefits. Choose poorly and, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. •GMS

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