The Conundrum of Dressing Well
Clothes communicate values, attitudes, identity and attributes that a person seeks to project to the world. Style can therefore be seen as a form of communication, notifying others immediately with non-verbal cues what that person wishes to portray to society about one’s own personal value system.
As individuals with a sense of style, we are drawn to those others who exhibit the same characteristics, whether it be an impeccably executed traditional suit, an equally excellent choice of the most trendy articles of the day combined in an artistic manner, or even an oddball mixture of a vintage find paired with a very contemporary piece of clothing. So long as one is dressed well, however it may be that one’s personal style dictates what “dressed well” entails, it all boils down to aesthetics. If chosen well, a piece of clothing will generally have merit of its own accord. The way in which the wearer combines it with other items to interact with the rest of the outfit as an aesthetic whole is what really determines if the individual has dressed well. A well-dressed individual can evoke admiration, awe, reverence, inspiration, and sometimes even slight tickles of envy. Admiring a well-dressed individual feels analogous to taking the time to lose oneself in a Rothko.
Well-dressed individuals are perceived to be more successful, whether this may be true or not. They have taken the time to shop, select, and curate an outfit in a manner that suits their particular expression of value. This consideration for appearance generally signifies an attention to detail, often a creative persuasion, and most importantly, confidence. One study showed that individuals who were dressed more fashionably were actually attributed as being more social than individuals dressed in a less fashionable manner. We view a well-dressed individual, appreciate and enjoy their attire, and immediately our feelings towards this individual are positive. Regardless of whether or not we have ever met this person, or only ogled them voyeuristically from afar, once our internal dialogue says “Wow, I love that!” we immediately and automatically have a favorable impression of them.
In our modern world where real, interpersonal communication is at a record low while cursory communication in the form of texting, tweeting and sliding into DMs is rampantly omnipresent, it becomes even more essential to be able to give off a favorable impression at a glance. The way we choose to dress instantly signifies to others our specific values through individual choices in style. It is therefore crucial that this signifier be a positive one. Never will it be detrimental to be dressed well.
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