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People do judge a book by its cover

September 5, 2012

Have you ever felt totally out of place simply because of your clothes? I know I have. In July of 2004, I married the woman of my dreams and headed to California for my honeymoon. We landed in San Francisco, rented a convertible, and drove down scenic coastal Highway One. Each night, we dined at the nicest restaurants we could find. What a fun time.

One evening in CarmelValley, we made our way to a popular lodge. A local shopkeeper in Carmel directed us to indulge in this best restaurant of the valley. I threw on my trusty five year old pleated tan khakis and dark blue polo and Lord knows what shoes. The collar of the polo undulated around my neck in odd angles with the right side puffed out and the left side smashed tight against my neck. To top it off, my white undershirt sat high and close to my chin while the dark polo opened up to direct all attention to the undershirt.

So, in we walked. The host gave us a once over and with a strained and somewhat forced courteous demeanor explained that I required a coat and tie. Our alternative, he conveyed, would be to eat in the courtyard. He assured us that both restaurants were served by the same kitchen and that we would enjoy the food. We thanked him and proceeded to the courtyard. As we sat at the lovely outdoor table, we watched people playing upper class lawn games. Others were strolling through the grass with sweaters over their shoulders tied in the front with the knot. You know the look. Occasionally, we noticed people checking us out. Needless to say, we felt a little out of place.

I guarantee that if I had worn a suit and tie, we would have enjoyed a warmer reception. The truth is that people judge you by your personal presentation. You can apply this truth to your advantage. If you wish for more attention from your customers or a better perceived image or perceived quality for your company, dress better.

If you don’t believe me, then conduct an experiment. Go to a moderately nice restaurant on a Friday night wearing jeans and a polo. Wait in the lobby for your table, enjoy your meal, and go home. While there, observe the service you receive and the people around you. The very next evening (Saturday night) wear a suit with tie and return to the same restaurant. For sure, you will notice a difference.

My point is this: dress well. If you want people to listen to you, dress well. If you want to sell more of anything, dress well. If you want your date to think better of you, dress well. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression; unless of course, your impression was so weak that they don’t remember you.

© Copyright 2012 Fashion for the average man.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. September 5, 2012 3:19 am

    I must agree with you. In our society we put way too much value on clothes and appearances…

  2. September 5, 2012 4:04 pm

    Also, you were in snooty Carmel where so much importance is put upon outward appearances of affluence. If you had dressed like that in a four-star here in SF, you would have been welcomed warmly and you would not have received a second glance, mainly because mostly everyone would be dressed just like you. Sometimes it’s all about comfort…

  3. September 8, 2012 3:58 pm

    Judgement is one of those things in life that we most likely will never be ever to change. Thanks for stopping by. You have a great voice.

  4. September 9, 2012 12:06 am

    I came over to Thank you for “liking” my blog ” Closing Out An Awesome Summer”, but I saw this article and you are so right. It leaves a Bad Taste in Your Mouth and I don’t mean the food. Little did he know he was testing a blogger! Thanks for this article, I will be sharing, if you don’t mind.

    • October 6, 2012 5:14 pm

      There is a way to be in the world, but not of it. Clothing should never define us. However, we can use it to our advantage. Thanks for joining in the conversation. I look forward to your input in the future.

  5. September 12, 2012 11:00 am

    Thanks for liking my blog! I really enjoyed yours and I’m having my husband subscribe too.
    Great work!

  6. September 12, 2012 9:02 pm

    I agree with you and Thank you for visiting our blog.

  7. September 14, 2012 5:32 am

    judging a person by the looks has been imbibed in human psychology… and certain restaurants and regions have a dress code , if dressed otherwise even the butler ignores you.

    • October 6, 2012 5:19 pm

      It would be easier and more equitable if people did not place so much importance on the outward appearance. I have a goal to help men understand and get ahead in this environment. Great input. Thanks.

  8. September 15, 2012 12:04 am

    It’s true. I’m a 3rd grade teacher– and kids feel like teacher’s deserve more attention and respect when they dress like teachers! (not jeans and t-shirts).

    • October 6, 2012 5:22 pm

      You speak the truth. You understand how to use your appearance to your benefit in the classroom. Good example.

  9. September 21, 2012 8:00 pm

    This is so true! Not only do you teach people how to treat you through your actions you show people how to treat you by the way you are dressed.

  10. Marcella Rousseau permalink
    November 2, 2012 2:35 pm

    Clothes make the man. It’s an old expression but still holds true. My family was in the garment business and my sister went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NY. She could create a man’s suite from scratch. We’re of Italian descent so we’re inclined to be fashion conscious and not just food conscious! I loved a man whose shirt tail was forever sticking out of his pants and I loved a man who was extremely concerned about his appearance. If the man whose shirt tail was always hanging out could have had better dress habits, I might have married him. lol. When you don’t care about how you look, you’re sending a message and it’s not a positive one. One suggestion, you need more photos in your posts to show what you’re talking about. Otherwise, it’s an enjoyable blog!

  11. woodentaste permalink
    November 16, 2012 1:20 pm

    Well…we need to show the world that we are different(or belong to a certain pot-to use a kitchen language)-although Felix Baumgartner saw a planet inhabited by 7+billion identical individuals…depends on the perspective.We,as humans,are placed in a space blanket-somewhere between the quantum mechanics and the general relativity-so in our tiny space it is really important to affirm our distinctiveness without saying a word:It’s how we adjust…yes,I take my rubbish out in my PJs-and that means something(other that I’m lazy)…and I will attend a meeting with Bocelli in my tuxedo …yes :it is important how you dress(at least in some parts of the world-what did I tell you about general relativity???)…
    Thank you for your inspiring pages

  12. November 20, 2012 5:13 pm

    People do judge and I hate it!! What and how we are inside is what makes us who we are!! Unfortunately many people have lost there ability to see! Fortunately I am able to switch to make an impression if I need to..but usually I think people can ‘F’ off!!

  13. November 21, 2012 2:45 pm

    exactly!!!!! ( dot com ) LOL

  14. December 7, 2012 4:29 pm

    Hi, thanks for liking my post. I think you need an “About” section on this blog. I see you’re promoting a book, so you should have an “About” page so people can learn more about your blog and about your book that you must be so proud of.

    I think you’re correct in your assertion. I dress very badly and my hair is just awful most of the time. I keep telling myself to sort it out, but then I’m trying to lose a stone and don’t want to revamp my wardrobe until I’m the ideal size. Crazy, I know. I have no excuse for the bad hair other than laziness. Your post has inspired me to dust off the hair straighteners and command some serious respect. 🙂

  15. December 18, 2012 5:13 pm

    I’m lucky and work from home, so I get to wear whatever I want. Often that’s pajama pants and nice soft T-shirts. However, when I go out I wear what fits the occasion. WalMart deserves nice jeans and well-fitting, pretty tops. Why? Because I deserve nice jeans and well-fitting, pretty tops!

    People in a crowd don’t know me. My clothes and condition of my hair are the first and only thing they have to assess who I am. Sure some people are snobs and some are judgmental, but making a vague and general assessment of a person is not judging them. We know a person likes a certain style of music or a specific group when they wear a band shirt. Is that judging? No. Clothing is not skin color or race. We are born a certain race, which dictates nothing of our personality. We choose what we put on, which does say something about us. Maybe it just says we lack style sense, but it says something.

    I don’t think people should judge or make another feel awkward because of how they look, but we can’t get away from the fact that how we present ourselves does affect what people think.

    Thank you for liking my Christmas memories entry. I’ll be checking out more of your entries, as well.

  16. February 11, 2013 6:47 pm

    Hi Jeremy,
    Thanks for stopping by Savvy SIngle Suppers. You may be able to dish out the sartorial advice, but I can make you look good on date night or when you need to entertain clients. Cooking yourself (rather than catering) is impressive to potential mates and business associates. It shows you care enough to make the effort and to pay attention to details and other people’s preferences. May I recommend 2 aprons be added to your wardrobe? One to keep for the dirty work in the kitchen and the second for greeting guests at your door (over your host-with-the-most attire). It will set the tone for an intimate, hospitable evening.

  17. July 4, 2013 3:52 am

    What a great picture and classy site.

  18. July 4, 2013 3:54 am

    Actually, you’ll see I came around to your wisdom (though it took 40 years):


  19. November 17, 2013 6:38 am

    I agree with your observation that people do judge on appearances, but I think that’s a bad idea and they don’t know what they’re missing out on. We really shouldn’t be placing so much importance on image, its just false advertising most of the time.

  20. makupsy permalink
    November 12, 2014 2:17 pm

    I HAVE to repost this on my blog,I have said this to my friends and colleagues one too many times and each time they think I am talking crazy. Thank you for the great post and indeed, people do judge you from how you dress, I know I do.

  21. makupsy permalink
    November 12, 2014 2:20 pm

    Reblogged this on MAKUPSY and commented:
    I hope someone reads this and takes note of how important it is to dress well and appropriately for the right occasions!

  22. November 12, 2014 3:44 pm

    True post here and good writeup. Ever since I changed my lifestyle to be more adventurous (I’m kind of a nerd by way of career) I let my hair grow out and started wearing jeans with a Calvin Klein sports coat even to the most formal environments. I do get the look over sometimes, but everyone seems comfortable with me and quite chatty. Maybe it’s different here in Michigan though

  23. May 17, 2015 8:58 pm

    100% agree. I judge all books by their covers, literally. That’s how I buy books at bookstores, based on covers. Unless you have cult or religious rules, everyone is free to dress as a reflection of who they are. If I put stilettos, a mini skirt, and a cropped top that revealed a tramp stamp on, I am using my clothes to send people a message about how to react to me, and what I represent. Likewise, if I don a matronly pantsuit, people might think I’m in politics like Hillary Clinton. 🙂 A tie-dyed shirt or pajamas in Walmart shows me you gave up on looking good years ago. A crisp outfit put together shows you know how to put your life together, how to operate on social cues and dress appropriately. And it still allows for plenty of personal style and expression. Look at the 30s, 40s, or 50s. Everyone looked like they took a moment of thought in their wardrobe.

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