Sarah Sheard's Thoughts and Theories

Friday, March 06, 2009

Dressing up

It is important to look good when you are on a job interview, or a date. I have been doing a lot of thinking about why. Certainly, you want the other person to think you are attractive. And second, in the job interview or date you are more likely to get what you want if you look the part.

But I always thought that was the end of it...and I was wrong.

I thought if a man showed up at a job interview in sweatpants, well, he is cutting his own throat...and the people who saw him wouldn't be insulted so much as would feel sorry for him. Similarly, if I were to attend the opera in dirty jeans, it would be my loss, not everyone else's. I was the one who would feel out of place. I figure my clothing was my business, and no one else would take an interest in it...they'd all probably be too busy wondering if what they wore was correct.

I found out that people DO get insulted if others don't dress up for them. Once I figured out a good analogy explaining why, I was sold.

The Queen of England figures in a lot of my etiquette analogies, so let's bring her in again.

Suppose you had an audience with the Queen of England. Would you dress up? Oh yes, you would. You'd wear the nicest thing you had, or maybe even go buy (or rent) something even nicer, more formal, more wealthy-looking. You would get your hair done and take care to ensure that nothing blew a hair out of place. You'd shine your shoes, match your accessories, and depending on gender, either shave precisely or put on fine make-up. You'd really go all out.

Why?

Because what the Queen of England thinks of you *matters* to you. You care what kind of impression you make on her. She is important.

Now back off to the job interview, the date, the lunch meeting. Suppose you don't dress up. Suppose your hair looks terrible and your shoes are messy. Why is the person you're meeting likely to be insulted? Because what you are saying is, "You are NOT the Queen of England. I do not care enough about you to look good." You are saying that what that person thinks of you does not matter to you.

As I say, I learned this late in life. People always want to think that YOU think they are important. Dressing up for them is one way to say that.

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