Dress Up or Dress Down

By Emma Boyer.


“Be yourself! If someone can’t accept you for who you are, they are not worth your time.” (r). I may not directly disagree with this common thought process, but I also understand that a person’s true personality does not always come out in the first few times of meeting someone.


Imagine you’re at a dance. Music moves the people around you as conversation lights the room between different groups. Here in this setting, you will generally find two different types of individuals. The first group is on the floor dancing. If they’re not doing that, they’re gradually making their way through a crowd of people, speaking for a couple of moments with each one. Their attire is more put together in a way that is appealing to a general audience. Their body language is open.


The ones who are not conversing are stuck to the wall, some looking at their phone and others slowly bobbing their head to the beat. They are hardly approached and stay that way for most of the night. Which would you first approach? The individual who is socially interactive and willing to communicate freely, or the shadow who clings to the outskirts, making it clear they are not available to talk.


Physical attraction relies on many elements of your personal appearance as well as outwards attitude. Anything that can be taken in by a contact within the first moments of seeing and being introduced is crucial in the other person’s perception of you. These first introductions are important because they have nothing else to base their opinion of you on besides what you first present to them.


Primary judgments are made. Do they have stains on their clothes? How is their hair, oily and matted down, or does it shift nicely as the person turns their head? Are their general features pleasant when you look at them? Is their skin fair or tanned? Does the pale skin have anything to do with them staying indoors for an extended amount of time? What about their scent? Is it overwhelming when first engaging with them or subtle? Do they take the time to prepare themselves if they may so happen to encounter someone of importance? Would anything distract you from speaking to this person and holding a conversation?


All these thoughts can flood through someone’s head in an instant. Does this make us all vain? No. It’s natural to hone these ideas. Without them, we would not be able to properly assess the person we are talking to.


Although stereotypes are not always true, in certain cases, they can be beneficial in the type of people we want to associate with. In “SimplyPyschology”, Saul Mcleod addresses stereotypes as “[a tool that] enables us to respond rapidly to situations because we may have had a similar experience before.” Physical appearance can tell us many things about the person standing in front of us. Whether we’ve had a good or bad experience with someone in a similar manner will affect how we treat them. Does your slacking coworker always wear a yellow scrunchy in their hair? You may come to associate a yellow scrunchy with incompetence in the work field. Not turning up for work or sleeping in the back of a business environment are both examples of disregard in this situation. Although this may not be a correct way to react, it is still something that is always in the back of your mind that the subconscious feeds off of.


This is a bias many employers have adopted into their search for proper employees. Upon entering a job interview, employers will first immediately scan the person up and down, judging their body language and dress attire. If the person is hunched over and does not hold eye contact with their interviewer, they are less likely to get the job. Confidence is important in the workforce as most companies are constantly in a race to be innovative. If the person being interviewed is wearing a t-shirt with baggy jeans that don’t fit properly, they prove they are taking this opportunity lightly as if this was any other day for them. Although appearance is not the judge of competency, it can be a strong indicator. And unfortunately for those types of people I have now described, they will need to prove that they not only have the skills required for the job, but the social aspect as well.


While talking so much about outward appearance and beauty, I have not paid much heed to how personality plays a role in our interpersonal relationships. As time progresses in knowing a person, the importance of physical looks decreases. Personality is what will be long term. Beauty is fleeting and can change in moments to become something for worse or better; this is all dependent on your perspective. 

In the world of personal relationships, looks generally do not matter, and personality is what comes out as the winner in the years of development. Although these are true facts, the graph also shows that appearance expectations are high upon first confrontations. Even with the importance that a person’s true personality plays in a friendship, lover, or family friend, it all comes down to the first idea of them, which is based a lot off of attraction and appearance.


Works Cited:


“How We Are Judged by Our Appearance.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/subliminal/201206/how-we-are-judged-our-appearance.


McLeod, Saul. “Saul McLeod.” Simply Psychology, Simply Psychology, 1 Jan. 1970, http://www.simplypsychology.org/katz-braly.html.


“Physical Attractiveness in Social Interaction.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4 Nov. 1980, doi:10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f.


“How Your Looks Affect Your Social Life.” Socialpro, 8 Feb. 2019, socialpronow.com/blog/looks-affect-social-life/#gref.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s