Last Friday was my birthday. What did I do to treat myself? I went shopping!
I didn't indulge too much, but purchased a few new items for my wardrobe. It felt good to buy something stylish and appropriate for working in the community.
I began to ponder a few things as I modeled my new blouses throughout the week, receiving compliments regarding how nice I looked.
In a small community we tend to get comfortable in our environment and our apparel often reflects a certain level of complacency.
I have visited businesses and schools where individuals are dressed a little too casually or in apparel that is more revealing than I believe is appropriate.
The clothing does indeed reflect the individual. No argument there. When a young lady wears a low-cut blouse, it tells me she likes to advertise to the male gender that she is a woman. It isn't classy if the attire is too tight and sometimes something I envision being worn on a street walker.
And, guys, don't mistake fear or disgust for respect. Dressing like a thug in pants that show off your underwear and a do-rag will not gain my respect. I don't know anyone who believes the dress code of a gang member is something to be respected. Instead, people see a guy dressed in such a way as unapproachable and often stereotype that guy as a common criminal.
The Lower Valley is a community of which we should be proud. There are many in the community with a strong set of faith values and the young ladies dressed in a manner more befitting a night club do not reflect that. The clothing also doesn't portray an image of someone at school for the sole purpose of learning.
I am not saying these young ladies should dress in a potato sack or a uniform, but dress like a modest young lady. I believe you will find more appropriate attention directed your way if you do.
As for those choosing to wear a t-shirt and jeans to the office, I am not given a great first impression. The jeans could be dressed up with a nice, button-down blouse and comfort will still remain.
In my line of work, I am encouraged to dress according to a standard befitting of my environment. We are supposed to be professional, while remaining friendly.
I like to dress to impress, but I also understand there are occasions for practicality. If I am going to a dairy, you bet I will be wearing clothing that can get mucked up. I need sensible tennis shoes if I am attending an athletic event so my heels don't sink into the grass or so my feet don't fall asleep from kneeling on the court. Also, many schools discourage any footwear that will leave marks on the hardwood.
Overall though, I dress so that I might feel better about how I portray myself. I don't want others to think me a slob for wearing a dingy t-shirt and worn out jeans when I am working. That attire might be comfortable, but I think it tells others I don't care about the image of the business I represent... nor does it convey that I care about my own image.
I care about the people I meet, as well. I want them to know that I take them seriously and I care to dress appropriately for the opportunity to visit with them.
I grew up in a t-shirt and jean-clad community. I understand the mindset of those who are comfortable in their environment.
When I was a member of Future Business Leaders of America, however, I was taught "the clothes make the person...dress according to the image you want to project."
Besides, dressing up the wardrobe can refresh one's own outlook on the day in addition to providing others with a lasting impression.