“You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
True? Or, false?
The truth is you have five seconds to make a first impression, say industry experts. Five seconds for someone to size you up. Five critical seconds that could determine an endless number of outcomes. And, if that’s not scary enough, Harvard researchers have concluded it takes eight subsequent positive encounters to change a bad first impression.
Without saying a word, your appearance speaks volumes, which is the reason the way you look is so important, and perhaps the reason so many New Year’s resolutions revolve around improving the way you look. Worthwhile goals, if you ask me, when you consider the following:
The way you look on the outside is often an indication to others of what you’re like on the inside. Your appearance is believed by many to be an outward expression of your personality – you’re fun, you’re serious, you’re confident, or, conversely, you’re dull, you’re careless, you lack self-esteem. In fact, 93% of the first impression a person forms of you is based upon your appearance and other non-verbal attributes, while only 7% is based on what you say.
People’s actions are often a reaction to the way you look. In the business world, for example, your appearance can immediately set the tone for how you will be received by a prospective employer; be the reason your boss takes you more seriously than your colleagues; play a factor in customers believing you are successful, and therefore, place their confidence in you. (See related article on interviewing tips.)
Your appearance tells people what you think about them. When you meet someone looking your best, it shows that person you care about him or her. Whether it’s your first date or your wedding date, dressing appropriately is an indication of your respect, not only for the occasion, but in particular, for the individual(s) with whom you’re spending your time.
When you look good, you feel good. The way you look affects your attitude, your self-esteem and, at times, your actions. When you feel good about yourself, you walk taller, you draw others toward you, you proceed with an air of confidence. Most important, you FEEL your best!
A positive impression affords you the opportunity to express yourself. After all I’ve written, it would be easy to surmise that I may place too much importance on outward appearances. But, such is not the case. I believe making a positive impression by looking your best is critical to establishing your credibility, to expressing yourself, to having your opinions heard, and so much more. If someone forms a bad impression of you, you may never be given an opportunity to share your talent, knowledge, or experience. So, if you want to be heard, you have to be seen (in the best possible way)!
Good Life Family asked local teenagers: “Is the way you dress important and why?”
Here’s what they had to say:
“First impressions are very important. The way you dress and present yourself tells people what you think about yourself and shows the confidence you have in yourself.”
-Alex Lochabay, 18, a graduate of Plano West, now a Freshman at the University of Oklahoma
“Yes, because it’s the best way to show your personality. It also sends a message about your attitude towards the people with whom you interact.”
-Erica Mellon, 16, John Paul II High School
“The way I dress is very important to me. The clothes I choose make me feel confident. I am one of those people who takes forever to get ready in the morning because I care about what I am going to look like that day, shows people my personality and allows me to feel good that day!”
-Morgan McDaniel, 18, Plano West High School
“It is one of the easiest ways to express your personality while simultaneously showing your awareness of a situation. Especially as a teenager, dressing appropriately is a great way to show respect and maturity.”
-Jack Provost, 17, John Paul II High School
“I believe that what you wear is important because unfortunately in this society, what you wear is someone’s first impression of you. Even though inner beauty is more important than outer beauty, your clothes can often influence who you are in someone else’s eyes.”
-Sierra Cox, 14, Shepton High School
“What you wear is important but only to you. Once someone starts caring about what others think, that’s when it becomes not important. Fashion is a way for people to express who they are, and as long as you feel yourself and are happy in what you wear, that is all that matters.”
-Risa Mond, 17, Yavneh Academy of Dallas
“Although it rarely occurred to me during high school, I liked having a uniform. I was never preoccupied with expressing myself through fashion. I understand that many people can use that medium as a means of self-expression, but my instinct was to express myself through the arts, my beliefs, and my behavior. Perhaps this instinct was conditioned by a lifetime of wearing a uniform. I can’t say.”
“My wardrobe now consists of four shirts, three pants, two shorts, and two pairs of shoes… Not the most glamorous getup!”
-Hayden Cowart,19, a graduate of Prestonwood Christian Academy, and now taking a gap year teaching children in Nepal.
“How you dress is a personal statement. As a musical theater major I have required attire for classes so I really enjoy the opportunity to reflect my personal style when I am not in class.”
-Collin White, 18, a freshman at Ithaca College pictured with a fellow theater major.