I was recently encouraged by a friend/mentor to read a particular blog that she knew would strike a chord with me. And it did.
The blog went into detail about a woman who refuses to engage in fashion, and only ever wears pajamas. She is a professional and wears pajamas to networking events, board meetings, and executive presentations. The post detailed a few reasons for her decision – notably that all fashion was uncomfortable and produced in sweat shops. So let me take a minute to disprove these reasons.
1. It is incredibly naive to believe that all fashion is produced in sweat shops. I agree that there are a large number of manufacturers that do not practice ethical standards. However, there is a HUGE movement away from this, and if one were to do their research it would be feasible to support speciﬁc brands and designers that do not use these manufacturers. Take for example – me! The entirety of my ﬁrst two seasons were patterned, cut, sewn, and ﬁnished in my home. Some days my life feels like a sweat shop…… but itʼs not. I contract a few ladies to help me sew, and they are most grateful that I not only pay them a fair price, but also make them homecooked meals during our breaks.
Also, the post featured a photo of the woman wearing her pajamas speaking at an event. The pajamas were a la Walmart/Kmart/Target. There is nothing one could say to convince me that those pajamas were not manufactured using poor ethical standards. Even if the actual construction of the garments was done ethically – what about the picking and processing of the raw materials? If you’re going to stand on this soapbox – Do your research!!!! And please don’t pretend to support something that you are obviously not committed to.
2. If the clothes you purchase are not comfortable – itʼs likely that youʼre purchasing the wrong size! Nothing lights a ﬁre under me more than people claiming ʻcomfortʼ as the reason for their laziness to dress properly in public. We’ve all heard these excuses – I would be that some of us have even used them ourselves! “Oh, but they’re just so comfortable!” while conveniently overlooking the fact that said fashion piece makes you look like a clown, or better yet – the Abominable Snowman. Here are my general rules: Pajamas are not appropriate in public. Uggs should not be worn if you are over the age of 18. Crocs should be outlawed in places other than ones garden.
I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on my wardrobe over the past 28 years, and the only pieces that havenʼt been ʻcomfortableʼ are the ones that did not ﬁt me. I agree that the sizing standards are not perfect, and do not accommodate the immense variety of body types that exist. BUT – thatʼs what tailorʼs are for!!! If one size is too small, and the next size is too big – the best solution is to purchase the bigger one and then seek the help of an expert that can make it ﬁt you.
Whether one wishes to admit it or not – wearing casual clothing in a professional environment communicates a message. One can say that theyʼre “making a statement” and that their work speaks for itself without needing to dress the part. Let me help you out with this – you are making a statement and it says, “I donʼt respect our interactions enough to get dressed in the morning.” To me it screams lazy, unprofessional, rude, inexperienced, and triggers something in me that will prevent me from ever taking you seriously.
You could be the leading expert in your ﬁeld, and I can guarantee that your words will not be heard. Wikipedia states that “Sight makes up 83% of the impact on the brain of information from the senses during a visual presentation. Taste makes up 1%, Hearing makes up 11%, smell 3% and touch 2%.” Based on this estimate – 89% of communication is non-verbal. It is also estimated that seven seconds is the average length of time in which a person forms an impression of you. During this short amount of time, people have already made their conclusions about who you are and what you have to say. All of this happens even before you have opened your mouth!!! Researchers at NYU, Stanford, and Tufts concluded that first impressions are formed from two areas of our brains (emotions and values) which process the visual stimuli to create that opinion. Those first impression emotions are triggered upon every meeting with said person. Further research showed that human beings rely more on initial opinions than anything that comes after it because we conclude that what we see represents the truth.
What does this mean for you? Your smile, handshake, clothing, grooming, eye contact, positivity, radiance, etc. are what preliminarily defines you in the eyes of others. And personally, if the message you speak and the non-verbal message that you portray with your dress create dissonance, it is likely that your message will be lost.
Now, I am not saying that everyone has to dress like a supermodel every day. My recommendations? Find a style that works for you and rock it! If you need help with this – I know some wonderfully talented Stylists all over the country and would be happy to connect you with them! Just please remember, if you want to communicate your message and have it heard – it requires much more than words!
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