Appearances Matter

“Appearances matter – and remember to smile.” – Nelson Mandela

If I’m going out to a restaurant and I want the best service, I dress up. The server assumes I have money and works hard to maximize the tip. If something isn’t right with my meal, my complaint or concern will be remedied swiftly because I don’t “need” the discount and therefore my complaint is certainly legitimate. Appearances matter.

When I’m going to minor emergency or a walk-in medical clinic, I dress up. Sure the triage system is based on need but if it’s between me and the slobby-looking person, I’ll get picked first. First picked – first to go home. A nicely dressed patient isn’t just looking for a sick note or a prescription. A nicely dressed patient has places to be and doesn’t have time to waste in a waiting room so the illness or concern is certainly legitimate. Appearances matter.

If I’m meeting with the bank to apply for a loan, I dress up. Yes they have all the data they need on the screen in front of them to make their decision. However, there is an element of risk and the lender does have some flexibility. Furthermore, when I say to them that I am shopping around for the best rate, they’ll believe me and want to earn my business. I dress well and therefore I’m concerned with making a good impression, visually and financially. Appearances matter.

Appearances matter. They shouldn’t. They do. People treat me differently when I’m dressed up. I get more respect. I’m taken more seriously. I get better service. Yes, these are all impressions made with strangers and ideally we shouldn’t have to be concerned with the opinion of strangers. However, as I’ve shown in the aforementioned paragraphs, it is often in our best interests to make a strong first impression with strangers and new acquaintances. These people have decisions to make and don’t have time to get to know the person behind the clothing, hairstyle, or fashion accessories. Appearances are quick means of assessing risk, of judging character. Appearances matter.

Whenever I think about choosing wardrobe to suit a specific social circumstance or to achieve a specific result, I think of The Cosby Show. Remember the one where Dr. Huxtable is buying a car? Hilarious.

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Feature Photo credit: kevin dooley / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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Arthur resides on the Isle of Avalon with his wife Gwen. His literary accomplishments are legendary throughout Great Britain. Arthur's children have children of their own and although he and his wife are empty nesters, their home is seldom empty.

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