You can always count on Shakespeare for wry wisdom and a pithy quote, and in our image-obsessed times, this bit from Hamlet seems particularly resonant: Polonius is telling his son Laertes to dress well because “apparel oft proclaims the man”. Much later, the American author Mark Twain echoed this ironically: “Clothes maketh the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Though centuries old now, the statement remains true in the era of social media and Zoom meetings – clothes truly make the man, especially on Instagram. People will judge you on your first appearance, with a click.
There are many things that we can’t control — the economy, love scams, off-schedule fashion shows — but how we present ourselves to strangers and associates, however, is not one of them. First impressions are powerful because, until you speak, how you look is the only information you communicate for others to make a snap decision as to whether to swipe left and bolt for the hills.
The moral Holy Grail is not to judge but this is the age of judging ̶ of nanosecond likes, comments, follows and reviews. Careers have been made out of judging because human beings have and will continue to judge others based on the information presented to them — and in most situations this is how you look. Every day we process hundreds of people by making immediate decisions about trustworthiness and intentions, solely based on how they present themselves. Put on a jacket and see for yourself.