Clothes Make the Man

By: Richard D. Hartwell

well-dressed

“Clothes make the man.”

“You are judged by your appearance.”

“Your appearance reveals the real you.”

These were some of the admonitions with which I grew up. They were leveled at me almost daily: by my mother, by my stepfather, by teachers, by various and sundry girlfriends. I tried to argue with them, with the logic of them, with the fallacy of following their unstated dicta. All to no avail, as the world was ruled by the illogic of the commandment: dress well, go forth, and the world will be yours! I ignored this advice and continued to dress as the rebel, both with and without a cause, which became a senior high school yearbook caption no less.

I wore blue jeans then. I wear blue jeans now. I wore white tee shirts then with a pack of Pall Malls rolled up in the left sleeve. I quit smoking over twenty-five years ago and I affect oversize, tropical-pattern shirts now to cover my belly. I wore black penny-loafers then with white socks, but the shoes are now brown, just as comfortable, but it seems I’ve now learned to tie my own laces.

Did I lose respect from some for the way I dressed then? Of course! Do I lose it now? Perhaps, from some! Do clothes make the man? No, no more now than then, but do others still make quick judgments based on outward appearance? Of course! And for some, those quick judgments take an infinite amount of time to reverse. For some, those quick judgments become self-fulfilling and never will be reversed.

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