What You See is What You Get … Sorta

11-01-2009-j0440987_blue_people_sihlouettesToday was a beautiful fall day with some rare quiet time at my house. Such a treat with an extra hour or so to go through a box of mail, papers, and magazines that have set too long and are begging to be sorted. They’re full of good articles that I wanted to re-read.

One of the brochures and an article prompted me to share a couple things I came across. A professional mailer (from a well-know institution) featured four of their 30-ish year old office employees on its cover. They were asking for our support and business …one woman, two guys, and a fourth person of uncertain gender identity –whose non-descipt appearance said “missing person”.

All wore unflattering clothes– mostly poor fitting jeans, sloppy shirts, dirty shoes, unkempt hair, and, well you get the idea. I asked myself, “Is what you see, what you get?”. 

My point?…Appearance makes a statement. Sadly, their well-intentioned message conveyed the opposite of what they were trying to say.

Somehow everyone involved (where’s their manager) failed to grasp that their important message deserved a nice presentation.  Instead, their poor appearance projected sloppy incompetence, neglect, even indifference, which undermined everything they were trying to say. I’m not advocating over-dressing, but what we wear and how we present ourselves often speaks more than we wish it would.

When appearance happens to be the only gage we have of someone, as in this case, how it “registers” can help or hinder a person’s credibility.

Clothes project specific messages–always with symbolic under tones.  That should make us care about what we put on when we leave the house, and even more so, when the ocassion involves public or professional duties. Some people get this; others don’t…or don’t care. Either way, it’s a loss.

Dressing for the ocassion has practical merit. It silently reflects a certain amount of care and regard…or a lack of it. I also think it affects how we feel about ourselves and how others respond to us in any given situation.

With that in mind, I next came across a saved article that I wanted to share with you sometime–And, now’s a good time.  See what you think. It’s from a lecture by Paul Johnson reprinted in Imprimis:  Heroes: What Great Statesmen Have to Teach Us.

Mr. Johnson begins with… “If we look at what heroic statesmen can teach us, the sartorial dimension–what they wear–is indictative. Then he cites examples of leaders who recognize their dress as significant and meaningful “communication”.

The rest of his lecture is very interesting. It includes Five Keys to Democratic Statesmanship. You’ll find it thought provoking and the Thatcher incident humorous.  The older children in your life will also find it interesting, especially if they play scrabble or like history . Here’s the I hope you are enjoying  these beautiful fall days, and, please, if you appear on a brochure cover or venture from your home, know that dressing for

the occasion and what you wear, is an important part of protocol, matters.

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