Such a simple question.
Yet it's one that the majority of men get wrong.
The fact is most men don't care about how they look.
Yea, they wear clean clothing without holes and know how to tie a necktie.
But most guys have bought into the societal myth that we actually do judge others based off performance.
The truth is the world is not fair. We are judged by strangers every-time we walk by them.
Don't believe me? Try wearing a ski mask, over-sized jacket, and wave your hands randomly while walking down a crowded street.
Notice how people avoid you? But why? I mean – you have a good heart and degree from a top university.
Doesn't matter – we are visual beings.
We are human – animals that for thousands of years have used our senses to detect danger & opportunity.
Appearances are superficial – but they are still incredibly powerful when we are meeting others for the first time and have little else to go on.
Which just happens to be often.
Having said that – I can now declare:
A Man's Style Matters. Your Personal Appearance Is Important.
Specifically I can tell you why style matters for three reasons:
1. First Impressions – The power you have over others before you ever open your mouth.
2. Personal Mindset – The way your clothing improves your own attitudes and expectations.
3. Practical Opportunities – The doors that open for attractive people, and that won't open for the badly-dressed.
If those don't convince you — influence over others, self-improvement, and increased opportunity — nothing will.
Don't believe style can do all that for you? Read on:
1. Appearance Is Important To Make A Good First Impression
The first reason style matters: it affects the impressions of others, long before your actions have a chance to.
The modern human brain is a recent evolutionary development. On a geologic time scale, it hasn't had very long at all to change how it works.
That means that a lot of our reflexes are still wired the same way they were when we existed as primitive hunter/gatherers. We make snap judgments based on very brief visual stimuli.
On a fundamental level, a “good” appearance makes people feel positively toward you. They experience chemicals in their brain that make them want to be around you, trust you, like you, etc. A “bad” appearance triggers the opposite, and makes people want to flee from you or overwhelm you.
Which would you rather make people feel?
One crucial visual impact you can have is what's called the “halo effect.” This is the phenomenon where people associate inanimate objects with animate personality traits: for example, studies have shown that people trust a doctor in a white coat more than they trust a doctor in street clothes, or respect a soldier in uniform more than one in a T-shirt with the Army logo on it.
That also means that people think a better-dressed man is more important. Want to look like a leader? Wear a business suit. Want to seem rich? Wear a nice watch. Want to look intelligent? Add a bow tie to your repertoire. And so on.
“Luck” with the opposite sex also has a lot more to do with our instincts than it does with actual luck.
The right clothes help shape your body in a way that's naturally appealing: even proportions that make you look healthy, and also just easier to look at.
A body that seems “misshapen” because it's asymmetrical or out of proportion is something that people's eyes don't want to linger on, while a set of nice, even proportions and healthy traits invites people — especially the opposite sex — to linger.
Snap judgments make lasting biases. If someone looks at you and thinks “that guy looks responsible,” they are likely to go on believing that until you give them a clear reason not to. Similarly, if they look at you and think “that guy looks creepy,” that impression is also going to persist until something significant happens to change it.
Dressing well makes sure that people's defaults are always set to positive. You won't always get along with everyone, of course, but you start out liked and have to work your way to disliked, rather than the other way around.
2. How You Appear Shapes Your Personality
The second reason style matters: it influences your own attitudes and helps you improve yourself.
We talked earlier about how people trust a doctor in a white jacket more than one without it, but here's the interesting thing — our own clothing has the same effect on us.
Specifically, a study at Northwestern University showed that ordinary people, when told to wear a doctor's white coat, performed better on tests of mathematical and scientific reasoning than they did without it.
Even more interestingly, people did not have the same effect when they wore the same coat, but were told it was an artist's smock instead.
The lesson there is pretty clear: when you think you've dressed for a certain role, your brain actually gets better at that role. So if you dress like the kind of person you want to be, you're already starting to be that person. It really is that simple.
In basic terms, “social cognition” is just a fancy phrase for thinking as an active part of society rather than a passive observer or isolated individual. It's what makes people strong leaders and good “team players.”
The act of understanding and dressing to meet socially-created standards heightens your awareness of yourself as part of a larger group. You're not just wearing a snappy suit because you, personally, need to — you're wearing it because it communicates something meaningful to other people.
That makes you aware of those other people, and in turn helps train your brain to think more socially.
Personal Pride and Discipline
Being able to look in the mirror and admire the work you've done is a pretty good way to start the day. Sharp dressers tend, overall, to be happier and more confident than poor dressers, in large part because every day comes with at least one personal achievement.
Similarly, soldiers aren't told to polish their boots to a perfect shine because shiny boots protect them better — they're told to do it because it instills a mental habit of high standards and attention to detail. That carries over to tasks that really are life-or-death for them, and it carries over into the important tasks in your life too.
3. Your Appearance Brings Practical Opportunities
The third reason style matters: well-dressed men get ahead faster.
Someone who's well-dressed is someone who has more options than a man in jeans and a T-shirt. You can walk right into a fancy restaurant, or past a reception desk in an office building, and people will assume you belong there.
That's both a personal advantage and a professional one. If you happen to be an employee, rather than self-employed or a boss, being the guy that always has a suit or a jacket on hand means you'll be the first pick if they need someone to represent the company or go talk to the people “upstairs.”
It's very easy to pull a necktie off or shed a jacket and roll up shirtsleeves to become casual. It's much harder to suddenly rise to a more formal occasion if you weren't well-dressed to begin with.
There have been some interesting long-term studies done on attractiveness in the workplace: people who are considered “good-looking,” for example, tend to make hundreds of thousands of dollars more over the course of their careers than people who are considered “unattractive.”
Attractive people are also, on average, more productive than unattractive people. Not simply perceived as it, mind you, although they get that benefit too — due to a combination of factors, including the ones we've discussed here, “pretty” people really do become more productive.
Attractiveness is more than just clothing, of course — but the right clothes can go a long way to making you more attractive, no matter what the starting point.
Low Effort Cost for High Return
Finally, it's worth thinking about the economics of it all: for the rewards you get, dressing well is a very minor investment of time, effort, and money.
Style is not hard to master compared to, say, learning your way around corporate politics or going to law school. And even a nice wardrobe can be put together for a couple thousand dollars, spread out over the course of many years.
Most self-improvement strategies hit diminishing returns very quickly — the actions you're taking bring in less and less reward each time. Dressing well, on the other hand, pays the same reward from the first day you do it to the last.
Summary: Why Style Matters
Let's run over the basic points of why style matters one more time:
1. First Impressions: Your Appearance's Effect on Others
- Snap judgments: clothing affects the first thing people think about you
- Halo affect: people assume you are the sort of person you dress like
- Sex appeal: dressing to flatter your body makes you more attractive
- Building assumptions: people's first impression colors their later judgments
2. Mindset: Your Clothing's Effect on You
- Internal expectations: when you dress better, you perform better
- Social cognition: dressing well builds good social habits
- Pride and discipline: maintaining your outfit builds confidence and trains you to think more precisely
3. Practical Opportunities: Style's Outfit on Your Life and Career
- Situational flexibility: a well-dressed man can go more places
- Long-term rewards: attractive people make more money and achieve more
- Low cost for high returns: dressing well is a minor effort with a big payoff
With all that at stake, if you're not dressing well yet — it's time to start.
If you enjoyed this article, here are some more resources that will help you learn why style is so important:
Real Men Real Style Testimonials
What's Stopping You From Dressing Sharp?
Discover How The Right Image Helps You Make More Money, Attract Women, & Command Respect
Learn the secrets of style in a structured environment leveraging my proven step-by-step men's style online course.