Whenever you meet a group of people you haven’t see in a while, it is, to a certain extent, a chance to make a second first impression.
Naturally, you usually can’t change your first impression, but if enough time has passed since you last saw these people, you can show them the new you – how you’ve changed, matured, and became infinitely cooler.
So one of those times, as I was starting a new semester at college, I decided to test this out and dress a little nicer. Not like I was going to a black tie event, not even business casual – I simply wore nicer shoes, darker jeans, and a fitted shirt.
Since the minute I arrived on campus, everybody was turning their heads and acknowledging my appearance. My male friends kept insinuating how “professional” I seemed and my female friends noted how handsome I looked.
Way that I dressed wouldn’t be perceived as extraordinary under normal circumstances, but in a college environment, where most students wear regular T-shirts, washed-out jeans, chucks and sneakers, I stood out. Not only did I walked with confidence and pride, but also dressed the part.
While this outcome may seem obvious in hindsight, it took me a long time to adapt this way of thinking. So let me share an embarassing story which perfectly illustrates this point.
WEARING A DRESS VS DRESSING
I had just finished high school and was going to a job interview in a prominent firm. I was skilled and competent for the job, but still young and immature.
Thinking back, I’m lucky I was even considered for the position, because I strolled in to the interview wearing baggy jeans, XXL Biggie Smalls T-shirt, and a hoodie so large it could be used as a parachute. I was also extremely skinny back then, so everything looked even more ridiculous on my petite body figure.
When I walked in the room, the interviewers gave me the “deer in the headlights” look and were naturally confused – “this is one of our best candidates”? Luckily, the position I applied for was exclusively for students and they allowed us to dress casually. My knowledge and experience prevailed at the interview, and I spent the following two years working there.
However, every time I think back to that interview I feel embarrassed.
What I didn’t understand back then was that looks matter. Regardless of what you’ve been told or believe, it’s a scientific fact. Sadly, people who disregard this or say it isn’t true are the ones who don’t profit from that fact – if they accept it as reality, it basically means they’re fucked in life.
But that’s not true.
Yes, if you were born hot as all hell, you will probably have to work less to acquire certain things in life than other people do. But as previously stated, every one of us excels in some fields, and fails horribly in others. So if nature wasn’t as kind to you with the looks, it doesn’t mean you’re shit out of luck. It only means you need to take care of yourself better than others.
Halo effect suggests that people make their first impression in a matter of seconds and, most of the time, they have to do it based on your looks. Still, many people believe that taking care of yourself is evil for some reason (shit, even I used to think it), but the sooner you realize that looks matter in this world, the sooner you’ll be better off.
I dressed how I felt best, not how I looked best. I figured people should like me for the way I am, not the way I look. And if they don’t, well, they are just mean.
My thoughts back then were about as realistic as a flying dinosaur shooting machine guns at Hitler and winning WW2 – it would be awesome, but it’s just not how things are.
I wanted people to think a certain way and form opinions a certain way, but the fact is that the world does not work that way. I could’ve easily said something like: “I want everybody to be trustworthy, so I am just going to trust everyone. Be the change you want to see in the world, right? winks to Gandhi”
Yeah, it would be awesome, but people are deceitful. You can’t trust everybody. People fight, people judge, and they make unconscious decision on you based on the way you dress, walk, and talk. And you do the same thing. It’s our nature and we can’t go against it, as most of the time it happens unconsciously.
REMOVING THE “UN” FROM UNATTRACTIVE WITH GROOMING
Personal grooming means taking care of yourself. But it doesn’t mean just trimming your nails, cutting your hair, and taking a shower every now and then. It’s so much more.
Reason that most people are perceived as unattractive is because they don’t groom well enough. Imagine a stereotypical movie “loser”; he’s probably overweight, wears glasses, dirty sweatpants, some comic T-shirt, and has zits and puss all over his face.
Who the fuck would want to hang around that dude? I wouldn’t. And it’s not that he was “born” this way, he just doesn’t take care of his physical appearance as well as he should (or at all).
Now imagine he started walking, then running every day, joined a gym, cleaned up his face, and bought some better clothes. BOOM! He’s transformed. You’ve seen it in various movies, how the ugly duckling is transformed into a dashing young focus of everybody’s attention.
It’s not magic, it’s just personal hygiene.
I used to have this messed up vision that extremely overweight people were naturally that way, and I always felt sorry for them. The same way, I felt sorry for myself because I was naturally skinny and weak. Whenever I saw someone with a great physique and lean muscles, I thought to myself: “I wish I could be like that”.
I don’t know how the fuck I managed to have such an idiotic opinion on these things, because I was usually pretty smart. It’s not like I believed that people are born ripped, but I still looked down on people who went to the gym and categorized them only as jocks and overcompensators.
Yes, some people are naturally heavier, while others are born extremely skinny. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put in the effort to work out and groom better in order to not only look better, but be healthier.
And it’s not like you need to start wearing suits every day, be clean shaven, and have a ton of gel in your hair. In fact, rugged hair, Captain America shirt, jeans and snicker with glasses and a stubble can make you look extremely attractive – if you do it right.
There’s a difference between having a beard and being unshaven. There’s a difference between a large, dirty comic book shirt on an overweight body and a fitted comic book shirt on a normal physique. There’s a difference between having greasy, out of place, ungroomed haircut and a clean, aromatic, but messy hairstyle.
And the best part about it is that it’s not a requirement that you’re born with these elements, it’s all a matter of taking care of yourself. Whether you like it or not, the way you presents yourself to the world paints you a certain way before you open your mouth.
If people look at you and see an underdressed, ungroomed, and sluggish person, why shouldn’t they think of you as a lazy, untalented sloth? Surely someone who is smart, productive, and a go-getter will take time to portray that with his or her appearance.
Why do you think lawyers wear $12,000 suits to court? Because they feel great in them? Well, maybe. But wearing a suit usually isn’t comfortable. They invest so much in clothing because they know that, in court, it’s not just about the facts. Facts can be spun, twisted, and changed.
That’s why sometimes criminals are exonerated and innocent people end up in jail, because the best lawyer is the one who can convey his message – whether he’s defending or prosecuting – using his voice, posture, and general presence. And when they show up with a likeable smile and a nice suit, they are automatically and subconsciously favored by the jury.
My advice is dress for success and dress to impress. Or don’t. But then don’t come crying how coworkers don’t respect you, love interests reject you, and friends make fun of you.
After all, whose fault is it?