Why Give a Damn About Appearance

You can talk all you want about fashion, but most men still won’t give a damn.

That’s partly because there’s a lot of silly, useless information out there that confuses and as a society we’ve tried to push the mantra – it matters how you perform, not how you look.

And yes, in a perfect world that would be great; but we don’t live in a perfect world.

How you are perceived by others before you open your mouth depends mostly on the physical signals you send with your appearance.

Appearances matter in real and fundamental ways that affect a man’s daily life – from how he is greeted when meeting others for the first time to whether or not he’ll be harassed while traveling.

mens sport jacket

Perhaps the scarf and glasses are a bit much for you, but this 50 year old photo shows that you don’t need to wear more than a well fitted sport jacket and dress shirt to hold your own when in the company of a beautiful woman.

A man doesn’t need to stay on top of every passing trend; however he should thinking about his basic appearance every day.  Still not convinced it’s worth your time to dress sharp? Here are nine reasons why you should give a damn.

1.  Clothing is the primary instrument in creating a positive first impressions

People are superficial, not just as a cultural phenomenon but as a hardwired instinct going all the way back to when our brains needed to make snap judgments on what was a stripy rock and what was a tiger about to eat us.  We tend to be done formulating our initial opinion of someone before we’ve actually spoken to them.

That means that your clothing is going to have a direct effect on people’s default assumptions of you — the better you’re dressed, the more respect and attention they’re going to automatically give you.

mens shirt collar close up

2. Clothing can increases your perceived status among your peers

Even after the first impression is over your clothing can help improve people’s reactions to you.  Society is very visually-based, and better-dressed men routinely experience better treatment and service than their sloppier counterparts.  Clothing serves as a substitute for character in the eyes of people who don’t know you well enough to judge you by anything else.

That may sound superficial, but it’s true whether we think it should be or not.  Your appearance may not mean much to you, but it does to the people who see you every day, making it worth caring about.

3.  Dressing sharp helps with your confidence

One of the first pieces of advice in self-help books is almost always something along the lines of “Get Your Personal Appearance Under Control!”  It’s good advice.  People tend to perform better in life when they feel that they deserve to perform better.  The automatic assumption that a well-dressed man should be treated with respect works when it’s your reflection in the mirror, too.

A few minutes spent spiffing yourself in the mirror before you leave home reinforces the idea that you deserve success and good treatment in your own mind.

4.  The requirements of dressing sharp teaches responsibility

As silly as it sounds, caring for your appearance will make you a more responsible man.  You wind up keeping track of details like which shoes need to be shined and which shirts need to be ironed, and (unless you live with someone who loves you very much) you usually have to do those things yourself.  It reinforces mental habits of attention to detail and planning ahead that translate usefully into any career or skill.

A Man's Guide To Style

5.  A good dresser notices detail in others

Once you start paying attention to details of collar shape, pocket square selection, and all the other little details of dressing well, you start to notice them on other men.  And those men are noticing them on you too — expect, once you start really putting some time and effort into your appearance, to start seeing approving nods from other well-dressed men.

A really well put-together outfit is as good as a Masonic handshake for introducing you into a secret and elite society of men (and you don’t even have to wear one of those little fez hats).

6.  Dressing sharp makes you more useful at work

Doesn’t matter what your job happens to be and who you’re working for, or even if you’re your own boss — if you’re well enough dressed that you can step away from work and into a meeting with a client, customer, or supervisor without advance preparation, you’re more useful.  Having the casual, day-to-day presentation to step into any situation and look respectable is a huge advantage in the working world.

mens sport jacket

7.  Colors and patterns speak for you

Once you start to learn more about them, specific colors and patterns begin to display their own unique advantages.  Blues convey youth, browns openness and trustworthiness; deep grays somberness and dignity — each can be the best choice for a situation where many other colors would be equally appropriate but not as ideal.

And by thinking about colors and patterns in a meaningful way rather than just throwing together anything that doesn’t clash too badly you may save yourself from being the guy whose tie keeps seeming to ripple on TV someday…

8.  Specific clothing pieces make statements about you

Uniforms and semi-uniform looks like the doctor’s white coat are obvious symbols of the wearer’s status or role.  More subtle effects can convey nearly as much detailed information for a man who takes his time to plan the outfit well.

From a bolo tie advertising a reckless, cowboy attitude to a pinstriped suit in the colors of a favorite baseball team, clothes can proclaim everything from your profession to your passions — or both at once.

9.  Good looking men call the shots

When all’s said and done, the best reason to take time with your clothing and appearance is to take charge of your life.  Well-dressed men have already taken the way the world sees them into their own hands, and the added respectability and authority people afford them allows them to call the shots in group situations as well.

Giving a damn about your appearance is a way of caring how much control you have over your own life — not just over what color of tie to wear this morning.

RAW Transcript


Hi. This is Antonio with Real Men, Real Style and I want to be talking about why give a damn about your appearance. 9 reasons, looks matter. Now, we wrote this article because I think any time a man begins the journey of dressing better, he needs to understand why. I mean really that’s, if he’s going to put in the effort, if he’s going to spend the money, he has to understand that this is worth the effort. We’ve all got a limited amount of time, a limited number of resources and dressing better, I mean, it’s not something that, well for some men it doesn’t come cheaply although it can. For some men, it takes a bit of time if they want to go the less expensive route because their going to spend a lot of time looking for good deals. I’m a firm believer that actually building a complete wardrobe can take a full decade. But this article again, we’re going to talk about why you really and I use the word damn because, I did that on purpose. I really wanted to stress, that, “Hey, this is important. Let me grab your attention and we break it up into 9 reasons,” but I could have expanded that to 19. Maybe I could’ve narrowed it down to 3 or 4 but the 9 that I came up with and that we talked are first, clothing has a big effect on first impressions.

Next we talk about how clothing increases your perceived status especially among your peers. Then we talk about how dressing well increases your self confidence. We talk about how the act of dressing well and of preparing your clothing teaches self sufficiency. Then we go into how good dressers, once you start noticing these little details, you notice other people who pay attention to these details. Six, good clothing makes you useful at work. Okay, that one maybe set a little controversial when you first read it but I’ll get into exactly what I mean there. Seven, colors and patterns speak for you. Eight, specific clothes make statements and that one we’re really talking about the effect of clothing and how it’s been used through history and the final one, basically good looking men call the shots and you can agree, you can disagree but those are the 9 ones I’m going to cover today and without further a do, let me go ahead in, start this off.

You can talk all you want about fashion but most men still won’t give a damn. That’s partly because there’s a lot of silly useless information out there that confuses and it’s a society we’ve try to push them onto. It matters how you perform, not how you look and yes in a perfect world, that would be great but we don’t live in a perfect world. Appearances matter in real and fundamental ways that affect man’s daily life from how he is greeted, when meeting others for the first time to whether or not he’ll be harassed while traveling. How you are perceived by others before you open your mouth depends primarily on the physical signals you send with your appearance. So let’s jump into point 1.

Clothing affects first impressions and if you think about it whenever you see somebody before you shake their hand, you notice somebody. Sometimes for an extended period of time before your introduced to them and during that time, the only thing you have to rely on unless their out giving a speech or you’ve received information from other sources is really their appearance and we do this daily. We walk around and we make first impressions as we’re traveling, when you’re going to and from work. Yes, there are some familiar people that you see perhaps a train driver or there’s maybe people that you run into that you’ve seen before but many times especially if you’re in a larger city, you’re going to be seeing all types of new people. And most people are just like you, headed right to work and you don’t think much of them but you do make impressions. If you see a gentleman and his arms are waving wildly, he looks like he’s on drugs. I mean, he’s got a stare in his face, you’re going to step to the other side of the road and avoid this guy simply because, I mean, maybe you didn’t say anything. Maybe he’s just, simply because of the gestures and the way this guy is appearing and that’s, you’ve got to think that it’s better for you to start…

…off on a good foot than to really trying to be fighting your way up because people make snap decisions within the first couple of seconds and then they spend the next couple of minutes trying to confirm those snap decisions. So if we see somebody and we think they look smart when we start talking with them, we’re dumbfounded. It blows our mind after a couple of minutes when we realize, “Wow, this person looks smart but their actually not very intelligent and I was wrong.” We hate to admit that to ourselves. We’re constantly trying to say, “Maybe I’m not talking to this guy right or maybe,” or another time we see somebody and we have judged this person to be lower. They look like a slob and then we get to know them and we’re like, “Wow. I would never have guessed that this person is so intelligent and that they are on top of their game. I wouldn’t have selected this person to be on my team,” because it kind of goes back to maybe think back when you were in middle school or even primary school. You remember dodge ball and you had to make a decision especially if you were the person that was choosing team members. You went with the bigger and stronger kids and you made those decisions often based off of how they appear and how they look because you maybe didn’t know everybody but you knew that if their taller and their bigger, they’re probably stronger and they can throw that ball harder. So we just make first impressions and its better if you are dressed well and you’re sending the right ones.

Alright, spent quite a bit of time on that one and I won’t spend as much time on the others but so clothing increases your perceived status. So the thing here is that if you’re in a group, the way you are dressed is going, can help set you apart. If I’m in a new part of the building and I need to find the IT manager and I see a group of 5 guys standing around and talking in a circle. One of them is wearing a sports jacket. The other 4 guys are in polo shirts. Who would you assume is the manager? Well most of us are going to assume the gentleman with the jacket. Not that maybe we think he likes wearing the jacket. We don’t even think about that but we think this is a guy that’s probably in charge and he’s dressing like he’s in charge so clothing often times sends a signal that this is somebody that is at a certain level and clothing used to, especially in Europe. It used to signal class so we still have these feelings that whenever we see somebody depending on how their dressed, we make a decision about how their perceived so for gentlemen’s dressed like a janitor, we’re going to maybe assume he’s a janitor. I’ve been in Best Buy wearing a blue polo shirt and that was a big mistake because I was asked for, people kept coming up to me and asking me for assistance. I don’t work there but because of my clothing, I was perceived as being associated with Best Buy and being one of their associates.

Dressing well helps self confidence. Now this is something women have known for a long time but actually the act of dressing well and people complementing you, it really instills and makes you feel better. Often times I’ve had female friends that tell me when they feel really bad, they dress sharp. I remember in business school, I had a friend and I could always tell when she was having just a not very good day because she was dressed [0:08:49] [Inaudible] and I would just mention, “Hey you okay?” She’s like, “Yeah.” I could tell though because she normally, for her that was her way of kind of combating that and they’ve also shown actually students that dress well for exams usually perform better. It’s like putting on a uniform and it gets your head in the game and it really prepares you for the task at hand.

Number four, dressing well teaches self sufficiency so if you’re going to dress well; there are certain bits of discipline that you’re going to have to develop. Shoes don’t get shined by themselves. Shirts do not get ironed by themselves. You need to brush your jacket. There are these things that you add to your repertoire but if you do that, it really, it’s a good lesson in taking care, learning to take care of items that are of good value. I think we live in a disposable world. Often times do we think, “You know, I’m not going to take care of my shoes because I’m going to get a new pair here in a year.” But if you…

…get into men’s style and you understand that a good pair of dressed shoes gets older with age especially when you take very good care of it, you’re going to want to really clean up those shoes after you’ve worn them every time, at least clean them off and at least once a week, sit down and rub in a conditioner to moisturize that leather and then get them to a beautiful shine. Even kings who was, well he’s not a king yet but Prince Charles, you look at some of his shoes and the guy, I mean I’ve seen pictures of his shoes 20 years after he got them and they’ve actually show how these things look sharper with age and so again, dressing teaches self sufficiency because it really, it forces you to spend time and create mental habits of attention to detail.

Good dressers notice other good dressers. It’s kind of like when you go out and you buy a car and then you start noticing that everybody is driving or you notice everybody that drives that model of car. The same thing when you start taking care of your parents. You start noticing other men who pay attention to the small details and you realize that these are men quite, often times a lot like you. Their men who care about the small things and you will find that simply because both of you dress well perhaps also both of you are also meticulous in your work and it’s just something that you also start to look for it in other people so if somebody tells you that they can do something or that they always pay attention to the details but then when you look at them and you realize that this isn’t somebody you want to put in front of a client. Well, you might have seen that before.

Good clothes make you useful at work. Okay so I kind of alluded to this in my last point but we mean something a little bit different than what the title sounds like. Basically, good clothing and dressing well means that you can be put in front of a client. You can be put in front of a decision maker and based off of some of the points we’ve already hit on, their going to make favorable first impressions of you and it gives you a few critical minutes to confirm their suspicion that you’re a good to go guy. So good clothes especially if you’re at a department which smart dressers are not common, dressing sharp can really help you stand out. I’ve got a great story of a client of mine down in Austin, Texas and he was a computer programmer in a larger office and he was one of only 200 programmers and he works for Microsoft at the time. I remember it was something like he was one of a couple hundred people who were ready to go with a tuxedo that night. Actually 6 months before had made him a tuxedo and the guy normally he liked to wear sports jackets and odd trousers. He owned a couple suits and he wanted a tuxedo because he felt that it was something we had suggested but I can’t really take the credit. The guy just felt that his father had said it was something he should invest in and low and behold, when Bill Gates was in town and there was an event. He was the only guy on a couple hours notice who didn’t even have to think about it and was ready to go and so good clothing makes you useful at work.

Colors and patterns speak for you. Now this is something where you start learning that certain colors send certain signals. When I played high school football, I remember, we never had this done to us but they talked about how sometimes we go to an opposing team’s locker room, they would paint pink or they would paint a really dull yellow, something that would almost suck the life out of young men, one of those colors. And if you think about it, I mean, often times, a color signals that. I mean there’s a reason why red sports cars are pulled over more than other colors. A woman walks in a room, she’s wearing a red dress, you can bet all the men are going to give her instant attention and if you understand colors, if you understand brown. Brown is a color that sends the signal of trust worthiness and safety. That’s a great sales color and too few men take advantage of this suit color so if you understand that about brown, it would make sense to own at least 1 solid dark brown suit that you wear in the fall and in the winter.

And you use when you are on sales calls because subconsciously this is sending the signal, “Hey, this is a guy that’s of the Earth. I can trust him. He’s a common fellow.” Versus something like pinch stripes, instantly people think hot shot business guy which if that’s the signal you want to send, it’s good but you start to understand how colors and patterns can create preconceived notions in people’s minds and you want to be able to use those to your advantage.

Specific clothes make statements. Whenever you see a doctor’s white coat or you’re in a hospital, you see a man with a white coat; you assume he’s a doctor. That uniform that set of clothing makes the statement. Now if you understand that about clothing, you can use that to your advantage. So if you’re walking through an office and most people dress down, if you’re actually wearing a suit, people are probably going to notice, “This guy doesn’t necessarily work here. He’s a visitor.” Maybe they go, “Oh, sales people,” so they may think you selling something or them may think that, “Hey we were expecting somebody important today. This is probably the guy.” So specific clothing makes statement, I think in the writing we talked about, the bolo tie exam. So this is a, I’m actually from Texas. Not many actually men wear bolo ties in Texas. I think that’s more in New Mexico thing but you can say the same about cowboy boots. Something like that that’s very regional but yet you can still pull off and be considered a good dresser. It’s interesting what kind of ideas pop in people’s mind. I think you need to be a very confident person if you’re going to pull off something like this but it does send a message. I mean if you’re going to get and you’re going to give a speech in New Mexico and you’re going to be in front of a lot of older established businessmen, you may want to consider donning a bolo tie or pulling something out and say, “Hey. I realize, I felt this was appropriate because it pays respect to your culture and to your way of life.”

Good looking men call the shots. Well this one you know can be argued but when it comes down to it, people that are attractive have an edge up in life and what we consider to be attractive in many ways is controlled by our clothing, by our packaging. So Christmas, we get excited about Christmas not so much because of the toys but because we know, as kids, what was under the tree but that bright packaging and the way it’s all done up. That really did a lot and in fact you could often get something often times, you can give a gift that if it’s prepared and packaged really well, is going to go a lot farther than of something a little bit nicer but you just wrap, just put in the bag that you bought it in. I could bring up a number of studies but just trust me on this when you can go and talk to anyone in communication school or anyone that’s read a lot of stuff. Basically if you are attractive, people associate that with being healthy. You get a leg up and often times the people at higher level management, believe it or not are often times more physically attractive. Not necessarily if you strip off their clothing but they do often package up themselves to be something that other people can look up to.

Alright so those are our 9 points of why you should give a damn about how you present yourself and for more information, make sure to visit our blog, realmenrealstyle.com and this is Antonio and if you have any questions, you can always reach out and contact us. We love hearing from people and you have a great day. Take care. Bye.

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