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There is ‘science’ behind the impressions we make. No matter what the occasion, knowing those unconscious signals can help you make smart wardrobe choices. Living in a conservative environment riddled with want yet bombarded by the telly’s world of style. consequently, the societal environment develops a desperate craving for living in ‘style’. This piece takes the writer back to a trade-skill learnt before becoming an adult. It is a compilation of different perspectives on dressing code and dressers.
Is this ‘Gene-sis?’
Getting an invitation to a social event can be fun. But what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you open the invitation? The event’s dress code! Some invites come readily with suggestions. To mention a few, some dress code may read something like: “formal”, “semi-formal”, “upscale casual”, “casual”, “cocktail”, “after five”, “business attire”, “diamonds and denim”, “pretty in pink,” “glamorous”, “simply sexy”. And the list goes on.
The quest for a new attire can become enthused by the season. At times, just pretty different colours and cultural activities. Often, by sports events and favourite celebrity’s attire.
For people like me who live in the stone-age within the 21st century often grumble, what’s with all the dress codes, anyway? Why must people put so much emphasis on what to wear? Is it the audacity of inborne peer-pressure? Does it really matter what you wear to an event or social gathering?
You bet it matters. For centuries individuals or societies have used clothes and other body adornment as a form of nonverbal communication to indicate occupation, rank, gender, sexual availability, locality, class, wealth, and group affiliation.
Stop and think about this for a moment, fashion is a form of free speech. Its wings spread over clothing, ‘accessories’, jewellery, hairstyles, and body art. What we wear, how we wear and when acts as a window that provide others ‘shorthand’ to subtly read the surface of a social status. It often also acts as a declaration of owning our own bodies as well as controlling what goes on it. For better or for worse. But who am I to judge?!
Dress Code, Acceptance and Rejection
First impression is a crucial part of life. Ninety percent of first impression is communicated through our appearance. Our external appearance through clothes, grooming, hairstyle, and body language, all visual elements – give clues as to how we feel about ourselves. Often than nought, our demeanour also exposes how we feel about others. American humorist Will Rogers once said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
May be some inquisitive mind asks, ‘how long does it take to make a first impression on someone?’ According to psychoanalysts, in business and employment quests, it only, at most between zero to seven seconds! Scary, isn’t it? So there might be some sense in what may sound to the ‘swag’ society as archaic thinking. Your dress code defines who you are. Positively or negatively. How you dress matters.
Although first impressions are often wrong, psychologists have found that they are very hard to change, particularly a visual impression. In one of its publications Forbes states that “The moment that stranger sees you, his or her brain makes a thousand computations: Are you someone to approach or to avoid? Are you friend or foe? Do you have status and authority? Are you trustworthy, competent, likeable, confident? And these computations are made at lightning speed – making major decisions about one another in the first seven seconds of meeting.”
According to behavioural science researchers, “the process of sizing someone up is made on a subconscious/emotional level of the brain. The evaluation can be so strong that it could take as much as five years to erase.”
Research studies have shown that well-dressed people are judged to be more qualified and likable than those who are not. Well-dressed people are generally treated with more respect and are given greater social and business opportunities. They are perceived to be more “legitimate” if they are dressed appropriately.
Fashion and being Fashionable
It is important to realise that being out of fashion goes either way. You can be dressed in the mist expensive attire money can buy yet the combination may not just dwell on the same body. The choice for a dress code should be determined by both one’s role at the event to be attended and the environment exuded by such event.
In other words, might you be a spotlight star accepting a prom queen prize? Will you be making a speech or a toast? If the latter, you may need extra confidence when all eyes are on you. For that you will need the perfect dress. Determining what is appropriate is fairly straightforward. A “formal” or white-tie dress code typically means tail-coats for men and full-length evening dresses for women. “Semi-formal” has a much less precise definition but typically means an evening jacket and tie for men (known as black-tie) and a dress for women.
“Lounge suit” or “business casual” typically means not wearing jeans or track suits, but wearing instead collared shirts, and more country trousers (not black, but more relaxed, including things such as corduroy). “Casual” typically just means pretty much any style of clothing for the torso and legs, and shoes.
It would seem logical then to suggest that dress code of one’s choice tells a lot about a person. Discretion is required. Whenever you goes out to make such a choice that will externally internalise a lasting imprint on the other. The public. Throughout the process of choosing and attire for any event, or if just for day to day use, thoroughness id advised.
One important thing to remember is that the outer world interacts with your outfit before you in person. In our age and time this question; ‘what will the dress code communicate about me to others’ comes last. The most ‘important’ questions, especially to the ‘swag’ society is, “what’s the day’s style?”, “which celebrity wears what?”. It is some times interesting when you meet people on the streets wearing clothes and other outfit accessories which are inherently repelled by the wearer.
Important as well is to remember that meticulous choice of what you wear to an event, while enjoying your time at home vegging on the TV with a bowl of popcorn on your laps rewards you with a sense of effortless relaxation. Shopping for an outfit that suits one’s personality should be considered a ‘rule-of-thumb’.