By Judith Rasband, AICI CIM
“You can’t prove it! You have no evidence that what I wear to school affects my grades or the way I act!” hissed an angry woman into the television camera.
The scene was Chicago and repeated in St. George, UT. The subject was minimal school dress and grooming codes. Students fairly spat into the microphone, their anger was so intense.
My immediate thought was “Oh, have they got a lot to learn.” And if they don’t learn, chances are their appearance will work against them the rest of their lives.
Research abounds, done by home economists, psychologists and sociologists, providing evidence that what you wear effects not only the way you feel, but also the way you act and the way other react to you—all with potential for lasting effects on your life.
Not everyone is likely to believe this unless they see it, feel it and experience it. Therefore, let me suggest a little experiment—an experiment not just for teens, but for anyone skeptical about the influence of appearance in their lives.
This experiment requires you to dress yourself inappropriately — inappropriate for your age, your fashion values, your personality, your figure, your lifestyle or the occasion.
A subtle approach—something that could really happen—often achieves the best result. Try wearing a shirt with a rip in the underarm seam or with a noticeable food spot on the front.
Wear a business suit or dressy dress to a bowling party or football. Wear casual or grubby clothes to a ‘best-dress’ party or restaurant. Wear mismatched clothing or shoes. Dress in a style associated with a well-known personality but not suited to you.
Put on clothing associated with someone older or younger than you. Try wearing clothes that do not fit. Borrow from a neighbor if need be. If you’re conservative, wear something extremely plain or outdated. The key is to wear something inappropriate. Your options are endless.
As with any experiment there are rules to follow. First, don’t tell anyone what you are doing. Even one person knowing that “this is not really you” will spoil the result of the experiment.
Second, keep accurate mental or written notes through the experimental period of time. How do you feel? How do you act or behave? How do others react or respond to you?
Do you feel confident or self-conscious, comfortable or insecure? Do you act like your usual self and on your best behavior or is your behavior somehow different? Do others seem to react to you in any way out of the ordinary? Do they treat you the way you want to be treated? Remain aware throughout the entire experimental period of time. Later, after you’ve ended the experiment, try to decide what effect your appearance had on you and others.
Copyright Judith Rasband and Conselle L.C. 2009
Judith Rasband is the Image Expert and would love to work with you! Visit www.conselle.com or call 801-224-1207 to learn more.