Clothes make the man/woman?

Clothes make the man/woman?

“Clothes make the man/woman?” How much should outside appearances count in establishing friendships or in being hired for good jobs?

The world around us is a living space of sensuous perceptions – sounds, colors, fragrances, textures, tastes. Our senses open the doors to our impressions, and often what we see translates into conclusive opinions. The way we dress, our clothes thus becomes a decisive statement of our individuality.

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Clothes make the man, define the moment. It has come a long way from being just the garment of protection against the weather. Today it is a signature of style, a visible element of our persona, the statement we wish to convey to the beholder. They reveal the mood, the significance of the observer to the wearer, even the emotions of the occasion. There are shades and forms of attire deemed suitable for certain times – mourning black at funerals, festive colors for celebration, and the purity of white for weddings.  It would be incongruous if one did not dress for the occasion accordingly –an insult to the bereaved family, a sour note at joyous events. Sometimes clothes are the norm of a few professions – the long robes and wig of the judge demands respect, the advocate’s black buttoned-up coat with white bands, the security guards uniform, and the police officer’s outfit. The wearer’s style identifies his occupation, affiliation, even status.

While clothes do serve to create impressions, they need to be sustained by the substance of the man himself, not the mannequin clad for display. Outside appearances matter but superficially in the long run of human relationships. It is the web of emotions which support the ups and downs of friendship. Often friends share memories of growing up, being bullied by the school goon and rescued by pals, dread of report cards, trophies at the sports meet. Do we remember the clothes we wore at the start of this friendship? Possibly not. Does it matter? Definitely not. In the human stage of feelings, clothes play a minor role. Maybe, the prom night when just the right dress was essential for the once-in-a-lifetime event! Maybe, the first date when attracting one’s partner meant hours of fiddling with the bow till the perfect appearance was mirrored! Friendship may start with attractive appearances, but stays on for much more tangible reasons of love and loyalty.

Stepping outside the perimeters of sentiments into the literally, material world of commerce – clothes decree the suitability of candidates for good jobs. The poise of a man in his immaculate suit steps up his positive reception, for the obvious reason that his attire reflects his confidence and credibility. A man in creased pants, floppy footwear and stained shirt may be essentially a man of worth ideally, but in this fast- paced world, the eye should like what it sees before the hand of welcome is proffered. At times, the wearer’s clothes may be excused – for instance, selecting a candidate for the medical practice requires evidence of his cognitive skills rather than his dressing mode; at the same time, an aspiring model needs to impress the interviewer by selecting costumes with good taste and sense.

One look should enable the observer to gauge the wearer’s carriage and style. Ideally while clothes should not make the man/woman, it is a practical fact of our civilized existence that outside appearances create the image we want to portray to the world, and  may even decide our destiny in more ways than one.


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