Not all messages we send are verbal. We send subtle messages to those around us constantly. From body language to facial expression, there are myriad ways we constantly communicate without a word being said. Our clothing is one of the biggest non-verbal communicators in our lives, and it may be answering some questions to those around us that were never asked. Here’s a look at what your clothes may be saying about you.
- How are you feeling at the moment? We telegraph our mood in so many ways, the least of which is the clothes you choose to wear. Although the actual style you drape yourself in may give clues as to your general disposition, the emphasis here is more on the effort you put into your wardrobe. Carelessness in your dress, that telltale sloppy appearance, may hint towards some type of internal disarray. Conversely, bold choices worn confidently seem to tell us we’re encountering a happy person. Color, style, and cut, coupled with the situation, all give clues as to how that wearer may be feeling.
- How are you doing financially? It’s disappointing to say, but we all judge the people we come across. We all have an innate eye for quality. You can easily tell a cheap, ill-fitting suit from an expensively tailored Armani cut. The quality of the clothing you wear, as well as the way it fits your body, tells the observer quite a bit about your financial standing. Although a rich man won’t always be wearing his most expensive suit, you can be sure he wouldn’t walk around in a baggy and stained Walmart t-shirt. It is an extremely superficial thing, but we’re able to reasonably estimate one another’s economic standing from the clothes we wear. Like it or not, clothing is a status symbol.
- What is your lifestyle like? A lot of what we wear is utilitarian and it serves some purpose beyond just looking cool. Those board shorts he is walking around in are probably seeing some time in the water. Those flipflops he has on show he’s often in informal situations where his footwear is coming off. That Patagonia jacket probably has been worn outside a time or two. The suit he has on most likely isn’t just on for the walk down to Starbucks. Clues into someone’s lifestyle can easily be gleaned by the clothes they are wearing.
- What do you do for a living? This is similar to what we can see about someone’s lifestyle. A lot of the clothes we wear are occupationally specific. Those coveralls tell us he probably works as a mechanic or in some similar capacity. Her heels and pantsuit hint to her office job. That neon shirt and pair of worn out boots he has on let us know he’s working in construction. The clothes don’t make the man, but they can tell us what he does for a living.
- What is your general temperament? A happier person will tend to wear brighter colors, while we often will assume that someone dressed in all black may not be the happiest person we know. The style says just as much as the color. Look at some slogan t-shirts next time you’re at Walmart. The girl in the “life’s a party, pass the beer” shirt is probably a very different person than the guy in the “I hate everyone” windbreaker. I made those examples up, but even beyond clothes bearing outright slogans, we can make a ton of quick inferences about the temperament of the person we encounter just based on what they’re wearing.
- Do you pay attention to detail? This goes beyond just carelessness. It’s often the little things in life that count, and with dress, this truth holds true. The cufflinks that match your tie clip, those socks coordinated with your dress shirt, and shoes that are tied evenly all express a concern and a focus on those little details that are so often ignored. Seeing someone that has put the effort into coordinating the entirety of their outfit, we can readily assume that they the type of person who attends to the little details in other aspects of their life.
- How concerned are you about appearance? This one is about as obvious as they come. We can readily distinguish effort, and we can easily see who is trying. It’s a quick jump from judging sloppiness in a person’s dress to labeling them as careless in life. You don’t need to spend hours every day deciding on what to wear, but if you want to be generally perceived as competent, you do need to put in at least a minimum of effort. Observers will see the effort you put in.
All of that said, our clothes can paint a pretty complete picture of us to those we encounter. Whether what they telling people is true or not depends on the attention we pay to the way we dress. By changing your clothes you can change the way others perceive you, and with that, you can change the reactions you receive.