What an Outfit Says About a PersonWritten by Gavin Humphreys
Everybody loves to people-watch, whether it’s sitting in a café window on a snowy day, or sipping cocktails on a bar terrace.
As you see folk go by, we often draw all kinds of conclusions about them. Just by looking at the way somebody dresses, we know if it’s somebody we would like to meet, or somebody we probably want to cross the street and avoid.
What can we really tell from what somebody is wearing, though?
Possibly not a lot - but yet the outfit they’ve chosen forms a pretty solid story in our heads.
First impressions count, whether you like it or not. And they are difficult to change.
We might be judging a book by its cover because we haven’t read the full story yet. However, the idea of the cover is to sell the book - and it can either do a good job or a bad job.
What an outfit says about a person
Ok, sitting in that café...
We might spot a rugged gentleman, then a fop walks past, the next is a bespectacled nerd. Can we tell that from their outfits? Maybe not, but we do tend to jump to those conclusions!
We see two doctors walk by. One is in his medical coat and a stethoscope around his neck, on his way to attend a patient, perhaps. The other is on his day off in tracksuit bottoms and a Metallica t-shirt.
Our opinions of the two fellows can be - wrongly - different.
Nevertheless, those outfits say something different about those people.
One says, “This is an educated, working individual, who I should respect.” The other might say, “This is a chilled guy, who perhaps I could shoot some pool with.”
Ok, then comes the next point. The person sitting next to us in the café might see the same two doctors and read the outfits very differently. Perhaps they have a fear of hospitals, or a love of men in uniforms. Perhaps they hate Metallica with a passion, or it’s a die-hard fan who hates appropriation of his band for fashion purposes.
So, even if you want to say something specific with your outfit, this is not an exact science. There are many aspects that come into play, other than just the outfit itself.
Yet, an outfit does speak, and be aware that when you leave your home, people are always reading your outfit.
What an outfit hides about a person
So, we looked at what an outfit says about a person, but outfits can also hide a lot about people, whether intentionally or not.
Some might say you can disguise your politics. Or your intentions!
You can certainly hide fear, indifference, or many other emotions and personality traits, by dressing in specific ways.
Yet, in hiding something, you have to be careful that you aren’t making it more evident - if you see somebody walking past that café window with a badly tied necktie, or a suit that clearly makes him uncomfortable, you are going to form an opinion of that person based on the fact they are not dressing in a way that is natural for them.
It could be read that people who are more comfortable in their skin are less likely to try too hard to cover things up. They might be more happy to keep and repair old items, rather than buy new.
In other words, whether you want to say something or hide something, you should make sure you wear an outfit well.
The importance of wearing the outfit well
You can wear any outfit - but does it suit your personality? Does it suit your body frame? Do the colors go with your skin tone?
When it comes to your outfit, take a studied approach and find what works best for you. Learn about fashion and how to wear outfits.
Ask friends and family for their opinions of what works for you.
When you are confident in your choice of outfits, you will project a better story to those people who are watching you from that café window.
Sometimes an outfit can say all the things you don’t want it to say. Maybe it’s a little tight, or the collar is loose. You will start to fidget and look uneasy. Uncomfy shoes that you just want to get out of, and give you a constant frown. You need to avoid this situation.
I heard this cracking idea - if the outfit is new, or something you don’t wear often, wear it a full day before that first date or the job interview. You could find it’s too big or too small. We all change shape and go up and down in weight. In that case, you either want to change it or get it tailored, so give yourself time. Even if you don’t need to change a thing, you will be more comfortable wearing it when you need to.
Buy timeless fashions that won’t look ridiculous in a few years.
Once you are happy with the classic styles, once you know what colors suit you, it then becomes possible to mix things up.
Picasso was a great ‘classical’ painter before he experimented with cubism. Do the same with fashion.
For example, once you know how to dress impeccably, then you can play with sprezzatura - the art of intentionally looking like you have dressed without putting in much thought. There is something aesthetically pleasing about not being perfect, and makes you seem more confident and relaxed.
You should also be aware that you can use accessories to accentuate your outfit. Whether it’s a gold neck chain, cuff-links, or a nicely tied necktie, the accessories will say something about you, if you choose them well.
Attention to detail is the secret to success. There’s an old saying that you can judge a man by his shoes - so make sure that you are telling the story you want people to read when they look at your shoes!
Choose an outfit that gets you to the place where you want to go.
Wearing an outfit that propels you forward
If you choose an outfit that says ‘this is the person I want to be,’ it helps you transform yourself into that person, and gain confidence.
The question you need to ask is who do I want to be, and how would they dress?
Think about this too - is it really you? You want to be able carry it off, not seem like a school kid dressed up as a superhero.
A costume designer on a movie or play creates a wardrobe for each actor so that they transform into another person. How do you know when they’ve done a great job? It’s when you don’t notice the clothes, you just believe the character.
Read fashion blogs, watch people from that bar terrace, and compare and contrast what advice is out there. You could sketch your ideal image or find a photo of a movie star that rocks that look.
Then work towards it.
One might argue that these ‘looks’ are all presumptions that say more about the reader than the book, but that can be used to your advantage.
An outfit can also propel you mentally to perform. If you tell yourself you are a confident salesman, and dress in a way that gives confidence, you might see people respecting you more. That is going to push you to close the deal.
You are the person walking past the window
Be aware that you are being sized up - subconsciously, perhaps - whenever you meet people.
If you are going to a party, a date, or a work meeting with a new client, people are going to judge you based on your clothes.
At the end of the day, an outfit says very little about the person behind the mask, but we can use it to convey an image.
If somebody likes the book cover and decides to read on, our products have a story that lives up to the image.
We source our leather responsibly and look after our artisans. We also make each product to order, so we have no surplus, and our handcrafted products last a long time, reducing waste and helping the environment.
Our hope is that our products not only give people a boost because they will look fantastic, but also because they know they are wearing clothes that have made a positive impact.
After all, feeling good is looking good.
So, the next time you are people-watching over the rim of a latte, be aware that you too are being watched. Make sure your outfit is saying exactly what you want it to say.