The ancient Britons are rumoured to have painted themselves blue, while Australian Aboriginals paint themselves white. Many native Americans wear beautiful headdresses made from bird feathers, while the Māori decorate their faces with intricate tattoos consisting of swirls and lines.
The general idea is to stand out from the crowd, not just to demonstrate your identity as an individual but also to show your allegiance to your family or tribal community and to establish your standing in the community.
While these traditional customs carry great significance to those who practice them, the essence of the message to others is: “This is who I am.”
This need to stand out as an individual and belong to something bigger is as eternal and universal as the need to breathe and eat. It is made manifest in our language, our art, our music and our fashion.
What Do Your Fashion Choices Say?
The clothes we wear say a great deal about us. They shout out, “This is who I am”. They send powerful signals to friends and strangers alike, projecting an image of the person we want to appear to be. The colour, cut, and style all work together like the instruments in an orchestra playing a symphony that is all about us. Our story is told in fabric and form, with ourselves at the centre. It is not just a matter of how we might appear to others but also how they might treat us.
According to the Psychologist World website, studies have exploded the long-held myth that women are more fashion-conscious than men. On the contrary, men have often been shown to be more self-conscious than females regarding dress and grooming and how those choices may affect their sense of well-being and public persona.
Of course, fashion choices have only sometimes had the significance they do now. Choices involved practical considerations around function and warmth, and options outside those immediate considerations were extremely limited.
rarely would someone be able to adopt a form of dress to project an alternative version of themselves to a wider world? A farmer dressed like a farmer; a soldier wore the King’s uniform: a servant wore his master’s livery, and so on.
It’s not just that the clothes themselves were expensive. There were few options for alternative clothing, and expendable income was so severely limited that new clothes were only purchased when necessary. There was no opportunity to exercise personal choice.
It is only with advancements in production technologies and increasing personal wealth that most of us now have the ability and resources to make choices that signify our social status and expectations.
The capacity to exercise personal choice in dress and grooming and to develop an individual style has, however, always been a privilege of the wealthier classes. Clothes and accessories became the mechanism by which men could publicise their wealth and status, allowing them to project a specific image of themselves.
The simple fact that they could choose what to wear and when showed they had the wealth to spare. They also had the opportunity to develop their style, showing that not only did they belong to a certain group or class but that they were also an individual within that class.
First Impressions Are the Best Impressions
This need to stand out from the crowd has never been more important than when a man is out to impress a potential mate. A peacock is blessed with a riotous display of colourful feathers, far more magnificent than the somewhat drab and dreary peahen. He will display this enthusiastic fan of colour to attract a mate.
Such premating rituals vary from species to species. Still, in men, the ability to project a positive image through dress and grooming allows them to distinguish themselves from their rivals in this all-important fight for survival.
It is often said that first impressions are the best impressions. We are prone to judge people instantly when we meet them for the first time. Much of this judgement is based on their physical appearance. Are their clothes appropriate for the occasion? Are they clean, neat and tidy? Never is this more important than in a job interview.
Even before the interviewer has assessed your skills and experience, even before you have opened your mouth, they have made a judgement. They have formed an opinion of who you are and what you are from what they can physically see.
Psychologists from Princetown University asked participants to judge a person’s character, including their trustworthiness and competence, based on a fleeting glance at a photograph. They concluded that it took only one-tenth of a second to form a first impression.
Whether these first impressions are accurate in the long term, they often form the basis of an interviewer’s final judgement on the candidate’s suitability for a job. This is why we should always do our utmost to create a good first impression because, unfortunately, we might not get a second chance.
A Tie Can Reveal a Lot About You
One area where one can express individuality is in one’s choice of accessories, such as ties and tie bars. The necktie was introduced into Europe by Croatian mercenaries. Louis XIV started to wear and lace cravat in 1646, and he kicked on a fashion craze that saw men and women wearing cravats which were often held in place by cravat strings.
Today men wear ties with all manner of colours and patterns, held neatly in place by tie pins and bars. Tie bars are primarily functional, designed to keep the association neatly in place and prevent it from sliding around. But they are also elegant and fashionable accessories that allow you to express your personality and individual style.
Even when the tie forms part of a uniform, when you know how to use a tie bar properly, it will allow the wearer to remain smart and tidy all day while offering the opportunity to stand out from the crowd uniquely and subtly.
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