“I’m putting on my top hat, Tying up my white tie, Brushing off my tails.” ~ Fred Astaire
Or, as defined by my dictionary:
Dressing Up: (vb) To put on glamorous or stylish clothes, to put fancy dress on, to disguise
As some of you may know, I wasn’t exactly rocking the festive spirit this year. However, there are traditions for Christmas Day with my family that can be ignored, one of these being putting on something smart/dressy/pretty for the main part of Christmas Day from present opening right through to the evening. So, in a manner of a knight preparing battle by donning his armour, I put on my little black dress, added heels and lots of glitter, and I was good to go.
We all do this. All the time. We dress ourselves according to situations. This is a response to expectations of society but also the expectations we put on ourselves. Because, although some like to argue otherwise, appearances matter. Yes, beauty may only be skin deep but how we respond to people when we meet face to face is first based on appearance.
For example, if you see someone on the street who’s clearly unwashed, with messy, scruffy clothes & several days growth of beard you’d react differently to if you saw exactly the same guy but clean-shaved, suited & booted, with a slight hint of expensive aftershave, wouldn’t you? Of course you wouuld! We might then, in conversation, treat these two entities in the same way but our initial reactions would be quite different.
Job interviews are another area in which I believe most of us dress in a certain way, partly cos we believe it is expected but also because it helps us feel prepared. However not everyone seems to think like this. @J0annepsi was tweeting about an assessment/interview day she attended recently. The letter stated smart dress so that’s what she wore.. There were other applicants there in combats and Converse. What sort of message does that send out to your prospective employer; I can’t read instructions? I am going to ignore what you tell me to do? I’m not actually that bothered about this job anyway, perhaps? I’m aware of someone who lost out on a job due to flashing a bit of boxer short inadvertently (it’s in my blog here). I’d worry if any of those combats and Converse people got the job.
Clothing and how we style ourselves can often be a form of protection. I was at a guy’s house one time & he was telling me some stuff that was uncomfortable to hear. Nothing dodgy, just a news story he apparently had some inside information on, & it made for unpleasant listening. I made him stop partway through, went upstairs, put on a pair of fabulous spike-heeled boots & then listened to the rest of it with my feet up on the table. Eh voila…
It was a purely psychological act. I didn’t like what I was hearing so I wanted to be better armoured to deal with it.
Appearance can also be a tribal thing, a way of saying to others that we are like them. Every town I’ve ever lived in has had it’s share of goths, emos, trendies etc. All dress in a certain way, sometimes identically. It’s a way of feeling as though we belong. Though my favourite example of this was being asked one Friday night by a bunch of guys if I knew where there was a pub for “people like us”. They were wearing leather waistcoats, Black Sabbath t-shirts & all of them had long hair. I pointed them down the road to the local rock pub as I knew exactly what they meant.
This is obviously a fairly light-hearted look at this issue. I don’t normally advocate further reading on anything I blog about but the thoughtful dresser by Linda Grant is a very interesting read on this subject. It has the true story of how a woman’s hat saved her life in Nazi Germany. It’s a fascinating book; If you know me, I own a copy and am happy to lend it out.
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. As always, I am interested in your thoughts on this matter so do drop me a line in a comment box-shaped postcard.