How your clothing choices define you

January 14, 2023
I overheard this conversation at the car dealership. “This guy looks expensive. He must know what he is doing; otherwise, he couldn’t afford that stuff. I feel more confident listening to what he advises.” Was he wearing expensive items? He didn’t have on any luxury clothing or brands that I could detect; however, he LOOKED like a million bucks. How you dress can be a power move, and you can ultimately shape the first impression you give.

How you dress is a form of communication. You are saying something about yourself, how you value the occasion, what first impression you want to give others, and the respect you want to show others. The aspect that some men do not want to acknowledge is that you can dress how you like (cargo shorts, anime tee shirt, fedora), but you must be willing to deal with the social consequences. Think about this: will dressing like a 10-year-old boy help you out?

Some men think, “Who cares what anyone thinks!” but first impressions and appearances matter. They will always matter because people will judge maturity, cleanliness, and status based on how you present yourself. We cannot see inside someone’s brain at a distance for their personality. You do not have to bow to society’s standard, but you must be ready to deal with the consequences if/when they come.

For men who care about their appearance, I can sum up the three schools of thought regarding clothes. Some men highlight and frame what makes their physical presence unique or interesting. They wear clothing that works well for them, which has a lot of their personality. They may gravitate to a ‘uniform,’ so to speak, because that cohesive wardrobe works well together for them. These men have a personal style that attracts attention, and you’ll hear people commenting, “Nice! He really pulled that off!”

Other men use clothing to subdue negative features (the smoke and mirrors I talk about) to compensate for perceived shortcomings. Personality is stifled on purpose for the clothing to be an irrelevant distraction, along with being well groomed.

The third type of men dresses in what’s popular or trendy. This school of thought may be the most common as people are consumers, wanting to be told what to wear by mass media, social media, and style/fashion magazines. Think Instagram. But remember that fashion is fleeting, but personal style is resilient.

I love my $10 Target scarf, $6 Target tee, and old leather jacket. Sure, I will spend more money on my shoes and watches, which raises a good point about what we value as individuals. What we each value is different. You must determine what you value, but it does not need to be brand-name. I will spend $225 on a great pair of boots because I cannot find a cheaper option that lives up to my standard. Plus, quality boots will last seemingly forever. The quality and longevity of that purchase are there, giving me a good return on investment.

I am NOT a brand or a label snob — I do not care who made it, if it is popular, or if it’s cool. It really makes no difference to me. I often look for great options that are not brand-name-motivated because they will be more affordable. And usually, these high-end designer brands charge an incredible amount just for their label or logo.

I am a bit of a REVERSE clothes snob. There is nothing better than looking much better than someone whose outfit costs more than your own. I wear clothes that look good on me, so when I see all those guys wearing so-called ‘cool’ brand-named garments, I must chuckle to myself because I look good, and they look like a potato.

In reality, nine times out of ten, most people have no idea what brand you are wearing. Obviously, they know the brand when you post it on social media, along with the price. Still, most people in public will only notice if your clothes look good and fit well. That is important – not what designer.

Harvey Specter from the show “Suits” is never seen without a flawless suit and impeccable grooming standards. He exudes the principle that in order to get respect, respect yourself first. Image and impression are more critically important. You definitely don’t need an insanely expensive suit, but dress with purpose and take care of yourself.

First impressions last. You start behind the eight ball you’ll never get in front.

First impressions last. You start behind the eight ball you’ll never get in front.

And while judging a book by its cover may sound improper, the first impression may be the last. At the first meeting, the others assess 90% of your personality from your clothing. It’s human psychology. Think about it – we all know this. That is why we put extra effort into our outfits on special days.

Every piece of clothing speaks about who wears it, from the fit to the accessories. The fit expresses how the wearer feels about his body. In contrast, the accessories can express beliefs, views, or if he’s uptight or relaxed. After wearing various clothing through the years, a man learns what type of clothing most suits his personality.

The most crucial point to remember is you have the power. Your clothing choices set the tone, message, and feeling you want to relay. It is never too late to start wearing clothing and accessories that make you feel and look like a million bucks, like the dude at the car dealership. You reap what you sow, so take it easy and experiment. This color? That pattern? This signature piece? That new way to wear something old? Fashion is a remix of a remix of a remix — wear it to your advantage.

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Aaron Marino (alpha m.) is the number 1 men’s lifestyle influencer with over 8 million followers combined across multiple social media channels.

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