Some might quibble. Perhaps it could take five to seven seconds, but entre nous who’s counting?
Those few moments are the flash of time it takes, according to psychologists, to make judgements about people by what they are wearing. It’s human nature, we do judge a book by its cover. We may be wrong, but then again we could be right. In most cases we’ll probably never know.
An individual’s sartorial selections speak volumes. Dressing is a form of communication, a remarkable lingua franca without words.
We’ve had this conversation in the past, but I feel compelled to revisit the subject. I traveled round trip from Chicago to Detroit by Amtrak recently, which I found to be extremely pleasant, in most ways more so than flying. The mode of transport is irrelevant, but it is the catalyst for my utter dismay at the way the majority of voyagers select their travel outfits. Yes, the majority.
Honestly, I simply do-not-understand. I saw three women who thought pajama bottoms were appropriate. I’m assuming they didn’t believe they were, or wished to be, stylish, but I’m relatively certain they were convinced that comfort trumps all else in making wardrobe decisions.
I stopped counting the women (and men) in full-on over-sized sweatsuits. Once again, all for comfort I’m sure.
I’m deliberately not referring to “fashion” in this instance because the word implies keeping up with the latest trends. One could assume that fashion translates as a profligate indulgence and we’re not talking about indulgence or extravagance or competition or wherewithal. Even saying “style” might be too charged a word, but ultimately if one continuously chooses exercise clothes and sleepwear as go-to out-and-about outfits, well, like it or not that becomes one’s style.
Let us never forget, what we wear is at least a partial statement of our personality. Style is an extension of personality. Let’s see, what does it say: I don’t care; I’ll never see these people again; making an effort is a waste of time (please don’t try to argue that it’s a waste of money because I can prove that it is not); this is the only way I can be comfortable; looking “stylish” has zero importance for me; I like the idea of hiding in plain sight, i.e. using clothes as camouflage.
Getting dressed, applying makeup and spritzing on fragrance is fun. These small gestures are a positive start to a new day. They are affirmative actions that boost the morale.
OK, I hear the arguments. I just don’t understand them. Why women do not want to look the best they can is a mystery I cannot solve. I’ve tried. The clues don’t add up for me.
Sartorial laziness is a slippery slope. One elasticized waistband and who knows where that can lead.
Our wardrobe choices are symbolic, emitting signals that tell people about our personalities, our moods, our intentions, our self esteem.
Clothes are politics. Melania Trump wore a pure white dress, a pussy bow blouse, then a black dress to the White House. Hillary Clinton chose a red, a blue and a white pantsuit for the debates. Then she opted for purple to deliver her concession speech. Is purple passion? Is purple the combination of blue and red? Or, is purple pride, ambition, wisdom, independence?
Observers have been obsessed with Michelle Obama’s clothing choices. Then there is German chancellor Angela Merkel who dresses with the utmost banality, another type of premeditated statement. Theresa May has been criticized for her shoe choices. Should a prime minister wear leopard kitten heels her critics ask.
It goes on and on.
What confounds me and probably always will is that some women seem not to care how they present themselves to the world, which includes far more than the strangers they will never see after a ride on a train or a bus or a plane. An individual’s world includes friends, family, colleagues, and those with whom one has regular contact on a daily basis.
Everyday can be a special occasion if we make the slightest effort. When we look better, we feel better, we perform better, we feel confident and confidence is power.
Within those three to seven seconds when we are being judged, with careful premeditation we can construct our case to the jury. Whatever we want to communicate is totally under our control. (We can even lie. . .)