Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Most Important Time to Dress Well

In the United States, the most flagrant misconception about dressing well is that it is something you should do only for formal occasions. The popular notion is that you should put in effort when you go out on Friday night, or when you go to a wedding, or when you have a meeting with clients - but not when you run to the store, or get on an airplane, or go to a dive bar.

The fact, however, is that the woman (or man, for that matter) who dresses well is the one that shows up looking good when everyone else is not. A well-dressed woman puts a priority on looking good, regardless of the situation. This doesn't mean that she never dresses comfortably, but it does means that she does so less frequently. More importantly, even when she does dress comfortably, she maintains a sense of style and considers her appearance above her preference to "just throw something on." The most important time to dress well is whenever you are inclined to put in the least amount of effort. It is in these occasions that you stand out from the crowd. So, I challenge you:

For the next three days, whenever you choose your clothes for any occasion, step up the quality and formality of your appearance by one degree relative to what you would normally wear.

If you were going to wear a t-shirt to the grocery store, choose a blouse instead. If you wouldn't normally wear your formal jacket for a trip to the mall, do it this time. If your heels are usually reserved for Friday and Saturday nights, wear them to work. If you don't usually do your hair when you go to a sports bar, put in at least twenty minutes to make it look its best before leaving the house. If you normally wear old and ugly workout clothes when you go to the gym because "it's just working out", get some new ones that work with your complexion.

If you need to, set an extra alarm on your phone for the next three days as a reminder. I've done this myself and I guarantee that you will be surprised by how much better you feel - not to mention look - as you go about your normal activities.


Related Posts

29 comments:

  1. Tried this once - it worked wonders for me. Haven't stopped since :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Agree agree agree!!
    First time I comment, but I've been reading your blog for a while and really enjoying it. It gives food for my thoughts and self improvement! And while I know most of the things you bring up, it's usual in my subconscious and therefore ignored or dismissed. By reading your blog I become consciously aware of many things and discover new ones. Happy new year!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Agree with the copy writing, can't decide about the picture? Maybe ok in California, but not at Spence? She is good looking but a Womens Wear Daily fail, Glamour- Don't. Several different looks and fabrics that don't match: Daisy Dukes with biker shorts/spanx underneath? is casual. The high heels and a lace top are very 'Vampira at high noon', and business-looking blazer to top off the mismatched looks? Dressing appropriate for situation/crowd is always smart; no stilletos at a baseball game, no cleavage or midriff baring at a neighborhood bbq, or a cotton daytime pink sundress at the 4am club, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I kind of hate the bagginess of the shorts but I think the denim works with the rest of the outfit - and I really like the rest of the outfit.

      Delete
    2. I think this is a classic guy vs girl fashion dilemma...what men think of as attractive vs what women think is fashionable. The two often don't line up :)

      Delete
  4. Works for guys as well. General rule of thumb - always dress a step up from what others will be wearing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. I got the idea for the post from my own experiences.

      Delete
  5. I'm a 29 year old male and I agree with all your posts Andrew. However, I personally don't follow this one.

    I meet women almost exclusively in bars and clubs so I try to look as smart as I possibly can when in them. I dress lazily at work / home / shopping because I don't really care and I've no interest in meeting women in these situations. Getting dressed up to go out helps create the good mood required to meet women. I.e. by intentionally dressing 'down' normally, it provides contrast to allow me dress 'up' and feel better when going out.

    Just my two cents - keep up the good work though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...and you're probably at your sexiness, when casual and being yourself. What's important, is a good scrub down and shave.

      Delete
  6. I have to admit, I don't dress "up" to go shopping either, especially if it's a day off. But it's funny that this is exactly the time when I will be hit on, is when I typically look my dumpiest with my hair pulled back and wearing sweats and sneakers. And that's when I will get a guy's phone number.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That women is not "dressed up". She's wearing torn jean hot pants over spandex and deconstructed espadrilles. A baggy, masculine blazer, that doesn't emphasize her female body, is thrown over her shoulders. If she'd been dressed in some nipped-in, sweater and skirt number, I'd agree with your image of what "dressed up" means; the respect that was displayed when people once dressed well, just to go out in Public -- even for minor errands.

    You were probably confusing the girl, with the clothes (an old-school marketing trick) and projecting your reaction to her, onto her apparel. It would've been better if you referred to your advice on physical fitness and noted how, when very fit, you can go out in anything -- even torn shorts -- and still look good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Correction -- "woman" not "women"

      Delete
    2. The point of the post doesn't hinge on the photo. But anyway...

      I completely disagree. While I am not a huge proponent of her look, I think the hair looks amazing, her make up is on-point, she is wearing heels, and she has the perfect high-low combination with the ripped jeans and blazer, not to mention the lace. I am not sure how you define "dressed up" but the fact is that this girl put time into what she is wearing, and didn't do a bad job by any measure.

      Delete
    3. The point doesn't hinge on the photo, but your perception and the definitions of your ideas, do. If you're establishing a hierarchy of caliber based on a systematic structure of factors, your point is hindered by providing a photo, like the one above, that gives an example of how you define "casual, but dressed up". A different caliber of male might think it looks absurd; sloppy, yet contrived and the nod to masculinity (done with the added blazer) isn't balanced with the rest of the outfit.

      If your advice is to be taken seriously, your mindset and value assignment needs to be examined, as well.

      Delete
    4. Basically, "why should I trust you to give me advice on getting a higher caliber of male, when your perception is distorted?" If you provided a picture of a woman who was dressed casually, well, yet sexy --- rather than someone who looks like they were styled by a student interning at "Victoria's Secret" --- then maybe I'd trust your advice.

      Maybe this gets back to the matter of individual, male tastes? One man's "dressed up" is another man's "slob"? Maybe the people you think look sloppy, have actually made an effort an another kind of male thinks it looks sexy?

      Delete
    5. I don't think he's thinking dress up like Aubrey Hepburn, or something. Not glammed up and elegant to the ninth power. Just dress up more than you normally would when going to run errands or something, heels, and a blazer. Blazers are in these days, so whatever is in fashion. To me that girl is more dressed up than I would be going food shopping, or something, as I'll normally wear sweatpants, and a hoodie to detract from getting hit on.

      Delete
  8. Great advice,dressing up always makes you feel better.Would you consider putting up a photo gallery of attractive girls in outfits. I like this look aside from the shorts but Im in London where its been raining for the past 4 days and I couldn't wear this outside or to work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i agree. id love to see some pics of girls and their outfits that you consider attractive. especially since males and females have differing opinions on this.

      Delete
  9. Look at outfits worn by Olivia Palermo and Miranda Kerr. Both successfully combine class and fashion with a hint of sexiness. (From a fellow Londoner who understands the weather limitations)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Then why do I get hit the most when I try the least? Like messy hair and normal of gym clothes?

    AnonymousLilly

    ReplyDelete
  11. So true! This actually drives my mother crazy sometimes because I WILL NOT leave the house without putting on a bare minimum of mascara/concealer/blush even if Im just grabbing something from the grocery store. I was never running to class in sweats and tees but always put in a little work. I wasnt fancy or anything but I would opt for a fitted v-neck and tight jeans and ballet flats over sweats and I looked and felt better. My roommate thought it was funny but I just feel people need to have some standard for how they present themselves to the world. I dont judge people who do opt for sweats but Im not trying to emulate them either.

    Also I see putting in effort on "regular" days as practice for big nights/events. My friends never understood why I apply makeup and dress up to do everyday things but I tell them its a no pressure way to experiment and find out what works for you. There is nothing worse than having to go to a big event/social function and not knowing how to dress/apply proper makeup because you have never practice in "everyday" situations

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have always done this, you never know who you will encounter. Now that I am recently single, it rings even more true.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It's interesting that you mention that in the US, Americans believe that dressing well is something that is only done for special occasions. I have been reading numerous sites that have discussed this very topic. Many people in other industrialized nations believe that Americans dress like slobs. Unfortunately, I have to agree with them. Of course there are many stylish, fashion conscious Americans. But we seem to be the minority.

    What happened to the days when everyone took pride in their appearance? Today, people think that pajama pants is acceptable shopping attire. I try to make sure that I look above average every day, even when I am home alone.

    An unfortunate side effect is that many women feel threatened around me. Que sera, sera.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In fact it isn't a modern phenomenon. The US has been more casual since it's earliest days, when it was considered a provincial "backwoods" by the more sophisticated Europeans. Americans would live in simpler houses, often go without wigs (men, I mean) or fancy clothes, and speak a simpler form of English than they did in England.

      My guess is that, being further from the "civilized" world, there was less pressure to conform to the social norms that had developed over centuries in Europe, but also that because it took a more adventurous sort to journey to the new world and suffer all kinds of inconveniences, Americans tended to be more rough around the edges - both of which effects are still seen today in much smaller degrees.

      Delete
    2. Yes, but there has been a decline in appearance over the last few decades.

      The men and women of the 40's were very stylish in their dress, and in the 50's and 60's Beaver's mom even wore pearls to clean the house.

      I wish we could find a happy medium. Looking like The People of Wal Mart is nothing to be proud of.

      Delete
    3. "The men and women of the 40's were very stylish in their dress, and in the 50's and 60's Beaver's mom even wore pearls to clean the house."

      This is akin to the fallacy that people used to be smarter in the 1700s. The reason people think that is because it is the people who were smart enough to be remembered who represent that time in history. So when we think about the late 18th century we think about a quote from Samuel Johnson (who, incidentally, was a slob) rather than the nearly incomprehensible sentences of the peasants in the English countryside.

      Likewise, at first glance the people in 50s look like they dressed better, when a lot of that impression (if not all of it) is due to the fact that you remember TV icons rather than the average American.

      You might be right that there has been a slight decline recently, but I don't think it is specific to the US. As we leave behind the Rennaissance there has been a gradual relaxing of social conventions - across the board - in all countries affected by the "Enlightenment."

      Delete
  14. I notice you've used Blake Lively as an example here a few times. She is primarily famous for Gossip Girl, and a lot of girls look to it for fashion inspiration.
    So I was wondering if you've seen any of it? And if so, what do you think of the styling/outfits of Serena and Blair from a male POV?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Reverse snobbery is social law in America. Most people feel more comfortable dressing like slobns because they've been taught - tacitly and subtly - that dressing up is putting on airs. It's not too different from speaking well or reading good books - they're seen as pretentious acts that separate you from others. The only excuse is if you're doing it to advance your material station. Then it's ok.

    ReplyDelete
  16. A "slobn" is of course a slob.

    ReplyDelete