Friday, January 22, 2010

The way you look tonight

You're all smart people. You know that how you dress affects the way other people perceive you. It's why we dress up for job interviews, dates, important meetings, etc. It's why goth teenagers in trenchcoats caused such a stir post-Columbine.

You probably also know, as I do, that how you dress affects the way you perceive yourself. Judith Rasband of Conselle Institute of Image Management says it better than I do.

It's time to take control of what we can—our everyday lives. Maintain a positive outlook and stay in touch with your spirituality. Now is not the time to slop around in a T-shirt or sweats, dwelling on the news. Don't let yourself look like a loser.

The way you look affects you first—the way you think, the way you feel, and the way you act—where you go and what you do.

Get up and get dressed. Put on something nice. Look sharp—in charge of your looks and your life. Fix your hair. Try wearing a favorite outfit or a new combination of clothes. Lift your chest, your head, and stand up straight—a little taller than before.

Everything about your appearance affects you—what you wear, how you care for and carry yourself. Looking so sharp and feeling friendlier, get yourself out and out of yourself.

This probably isn't news to any of us. What I have a hard time with is remembering it. Give me a t-shirt and my brother's old gym shorts, and I'm a happy and comfortable girl. I LOVE that I can wear a t-shirt and jeans (even shorts) to work most days. Most of the people in my building know that if I'm wearing slacks and heels, I probably have a meeting. I usually make an effort to, well, make an effort when I know it might matter to other people, but I forget to make an effort when it would only matter to me.

It's easy to do. I work, mostly, alone. I don't think I've exchanged more than casual courtesies with anyone in person there since sometime last week. So, I know that if I sleep in twenty minutes longer and just throw on some random shirt after showering and piling my hair on top of my head, no one's going to care. Or, if I take those twenty minutes to carefully style my hair and actually put together an ensemble, no one's going to care. There's also the chance that the guys in the warehouse, who have been turned down for dates more than once, will compliment me. I always appreciate a compliment, truly, but there is something about the way they say it that causes me to feel uncomfortable. At least I've stopped saving my reasons to walk past them until after they've left for the day. It really doesn't help that I'm the only woman in the building under the age of 45.

So, I get in a rut of not worrying about my appearance. I'm clean, and at least I choose nice t-shirts, so I'm not a slob. I'm just casual and comfortable. But there is such a thing as too casual, and after a while of being casual, I start to feel it and act like it, and that IS a problem.

I dressed up this week. I wore heels to work twice. I've washed, dried, and straightened my hair three times in the last five days. I did wear a t-shirt on Monday, but that wasn't a work day.

Other people have noticed. Friends I went to dinner with last Friday noticed. More than one person has complimented me on the duster I incorporated into my outfit on Sunday and today. This has definitely been welcome. However, the most welcome thing is how I've noticed. Traditionally, this week would have been a very casual week, and while I have been tired and there was one day I just sported a rather frizzy chignon, I have still felt a little extra energized, confident, and focused than I have lately.

Hooray for that. I do wish I could add few more blouses into my wardrobe right now, but the clothing budget is currently rather limited. Still, I can continue to experiment with hairstyles, mixing and matching all the clothes I do have, and maybe add a few new accessories. I can definitely keep working out, which should eventually mean that I'll be able to wear some of the pants I haven't worn for awhile. Not that I have anywhere to wear my pleather pants to just now, but having the option again would be nice.

I really do like myself. I just could do a better job of reminding myself of that fact.


Belle of the Blues said...

This verifies my long-held opinion that dressing up when I wake up feeling utterly depressed (or some other unpleasant emotion) really does help me have a better day. Rock on with your bad self. =)

Bridget said...

I've been coming to this realization myself, recently. What you've written is so true.

Belle of the Blues said...

Okay, this is one of those weird, blog-hopping kind of things, but I would swear that this Bridget is a frequent commenter on my SIL's's that for a small world? How do you and Amanda both know her? Random, I know.

AmandaStretch said...

I actually teased Bridget about this in the comments of your SIL's blog, which I'd blogsurfed onto one day from your blog. We don't know each other in person, but we do have at least one real life mutual friend and seem to intersect on a lot of our blog reading habits. :)

Judith Rasband said...

Thank you, Amanda, for the quote and blogpost regarding image. It was great to read about your impressions as you dressed up during your week. While many people talk about our first impressions on those we meet, I always say that the first impression is on ourselves. When we dress up, we feel the difference. Just like your experience!