A bad, appallingly bad precedent bordering on dangerous is set when just (an irritating adverb), continually creeps up as the primary excuse for employing minimum standards in dress. A common rationale I have often heard is: “the event or location isn’t important enough to warrant effort.” While this can apply to nearly any endeavor with which we choose to assign minimum effort, it is most troubling especially when you consider the enormous advantage of the opposite: that first appearance and its initial impact. We owe it to ourselves to present our best self as much, and as often, as we possibly can. I can’t emphasize that enough. Because at some point appearance will make the difference, it is better to be prepared.
I don’t need official corroboration when I say appearance matters. It helps that countless studies conclude similarly. So I can say emphatically it is to your advantage to present your best self. There should never be a just moment. That’s not merely hyperbole, it’s better to give a damn than not. That excuse sinks us into complacency. Stop the convenient lie that more and more locations, and social circles lack the ambiance important enough for you to put forth minimum effort.
Where and when does the just end? I’m only meeting so and so…I’m just running to the store…I’m not trying to impress anyone. This is a dangerously slippery slope into the zone of the slovenly, self absorbed, Seinfeldian legend, George Constanza. Where, eventually, you may unconsciously adhere to a similar nonchalance in more than one aspect of life. The same sloppy appearance trickles into work, and social situations, none being important enough due to that ill conceived rationalization.
Maturing, hopefully, is synonymous with learning and lessons being learned followed (or preceded) by many “ah ha” moments. One of my “ah ha” moments came unexpectedly and it was quite influential.
Following a long-needed haircut and a new tie, the executive editor at the newspaper where I worked, commented, ‘now, you look the part’. A promotion followed shortly after. Now I can’t say that because I wore a nice tie and got I got a promotion. But it brought the right attention and I took note. Realization followed by action, that is what “ah ha” moments are supposed to do.
I’m reminded of a quote that’s attributed to the abolitionist, Henry Ward Beecher, “Clothes and manners do not make the man; but, when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.”
It is not at all overwhelming or off putting as one may imagine. Make minor but important adjustments. All it takes it shifting one piece. Putting forth that extra bit of effort. The sandals are easier, but the loafers are more polished, if even for a weekend brunch. If we keep the notion of first impressions in the forefront, we’re better off. To reach the next career level, public figures from politicians to rappers have undergone the requisite change, and for the better. In the world of upward mobility, there’s absolutely no room for the just factor.
In a contemporary society, image our first weapon. For any genuine shift in mindset, the just factor must be eliminated, in favor of a more advantageous option; straightening up.