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Style Meets Substance

“Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only.” – Samuel Butler

What a hectic couple of weeks!! After finishing a 20-page paper, getting a little local exposure from (check it out, if you haven’t read it, here) and enjoying my birthday last week, (hooray birthdays!) I decided with some of the downtime I had I wanted to do some spring-cleaning. I went through my entire closet, and as I was getting rid of the things that I didn’t want anymore and it got me thinking of a new blog post. What do my clothes say about me? I have a little bit of everything, from dresses to college t-shirts to dress slacks to jerseys, (around 65 now, and still growing!) and I take pride in the fact that I think I dress well and have a good sense of style. Clothes are also a way to express oneself through colors, fabrics, and creativity. I often get asked my favorite labels or designers I prefer. To be honest, I don’t stick to one particular brand.

Sure, dressing a certain way definitely impacts how others can view you. But it also speaks volumes of how you feel about yourself. Don’t think it matters? Wrong, it does, even in the smallest way. You know how it goes, the water cooler talk about what someone was wearing the night before. Often some conversation beginning with, “What were they wearing and what were they thinking??” comes to mind. Particularly with work, and having a career, fashion is important more than you think.

Lets take a look at the movie, ‘Devil Wears Prada.’ For those of you who haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. The witty humor and business operations of a successful company, even if it seems like some girly fashion magazine. The premise: A young writer new to NYC lands a job with a fashion magazine. Knowing little to nothing about labels or style at all, she gets criticized for it and her work suffers. She starts to learn that dressing well for the job and learning to be professional in other ways really made the difference.

Today, fashion and sports often coincide; check out my friend Heather’s (@HeatherZeller) blog,  Glam Slam: Where Fashion Meets Sports.

In sports, the uniform is heavily influenced, too. Recently, there has been a lot of talk of properly representing an organization that you work for or with. There has been discussion about whether Chicago Bulls Joakim Noah’s slur to a fan is worthy of being fined $50,000. Same thing with Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant’s slur only a few short weeks ago, fined $100,000. One side of the debate says that its freedom of speech, another side says it’s the cameraman’s fault for catching the slip up, others say it is their fault. Regardless of what was said, both athletes are representing the respective NBA franchise teams while being in uniform. It ultimately negatively reflects on the organization.

The bottom line is this: If you’re comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt going to the grocery store, or working out at the gym in sweats, that’s fine. But in a place of legitimate business, or attending an event representing a company, think twice before dressing inappropriately. You never know who you’ll meet or run into. Yes those heels hurt, but I always feel more confident in them than in flats.

The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” means nothing if someone sees you from across the room. It can also translate the same way if you’re trying to meet someone at a bar – regardless of how nice or cordial they are and despite their actual talent or work efforts, people always hold someone to a higher regard if they look the part, too. Everyone wants to be a part of some organization that has employees who embody the job as a whole and that includes how one dresses. Just put yourself in a CEO’s position during the interview process. Would you hire yourself? These days, image is everything, but sometimes can be difficult to maintain, especially in front of others. Self-image is even more important, however, and that comes from within.

Maybe that relates to a buying a new shirt or a new pair of shoes, or maybe even a new wardrobe, but whatever the case, it is just human nature to judge that book by its cover. We all do it – but we all want to make a good impression, too. Personal appearance can affect your credibility and in my opinion, it’s well worth the effort.