They say dress to impress, and that your outward appearance is a reflection of your inward self. They also say it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and you can’t judge a book by its cover.
But if you like your fuzzy, blue cow-print pajamas and you’re comfortable, should you cater to the world or should you dress to please yourself? Alas, the clothing conundrum has been created, filled with gray areas and iffy outfits. But there are some rules of thumb to follow.
Here is my theory: We don’t all have the time, money or desire to meet societal standards of dress, but there are a few times when clothing matters. Dress how you please in all situations but the following three, and you will likely avoid awkward judgment and unwanted rejection.
1. Job interviews
If what you wear ever matters, this is the time. According to jobsearch.com, the first impression you make on an employer is the most important one, and clothes are the first thing that they will judge. This goes for all interview-type situations, whether it’s meeting new coworkers or being introduced to a significant other’s parents for the first time.
2. Formal events
These include plays, dance recitals, weddings, nice restaurants and the like. Of course, use your own discretion on this one, but generally go for a more formal attire. The farmers’ market does not call for slacks and blouses, and baseball caps and torn T-shirts are perfectly acceptable for evening sporting events.
3. The workplace
Any location that enforces a dress code is hard to get around, but there are pros and cons. If there’s a uniform, it saves you the trouble of choosing altogether. If there isn’t, just take a look at the attire of those worn around you and emulate. You can add individuality with accessories and shoes. You don’t have to conform and become a corporate tool, but you do have to meet certain expectations.
Though some may be reluctant to conform with the rules of attire, there are definitely times when they will get you ahead, keep you from causing unwanted waves, and prevent you from being forcefully removed out of places.
It’s great to be an individual and wear what you please, but there are times when dressing to please the crowd around you helps.
Should we care what other people think? No. Should we dress to meet other’s expectations? No. Should your outfit be an indicator of your quality and character? Absolutely not! Unfortunately for the pajama-loving, thrift store-wearing masses (myself included), it often is.
Dr. Seuss said, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Though you should dress to please yourself (and for those who are pleased by societal clothing standards, you’ve read too far), there are times when it pays to dress to the satisfaction of others, despite Dr. Seuss’ best advice.
Shannon Boren is a journalism junior and a reporter for the Mustang Daily.