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They Can Smell You A Mile Away

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Some fashion is just utterly predictable. Utterly predictable in the sense that it can tell other people what you’re all about. Ok, it might not tell the whole story of what you’re about. But for some people, what you wear is enough for people to make their snap judgments and decide whether or not they want to further know what you’re about or if they’ve had enough. First impressions are everything and sometimes that doesn’t include conversation. That’s why the power of fashion should never be underestimated. I’m not saying that you should be dressed up everywhere you go, although some people hold that as a rule and always look respectable. However, one should know the type of signals he/she is sending with his/her clothes. If you look like a bum, acknowledge that you look like a bum and do not be surprised if people treat you like nothing more. I know I’ve had my fair share of disheveled days. Fashion signals are not always this obvious.

Here’s an example. Last night, I found myself in San Francisco’s Poleng Lounge celebrating the 22nd birthday of my best friend in sober fun (I was sober, he wasn’t.) Needless to say, I was striking conversation with friends and catching up with old acquaintances. My attractive female friend stands up and says jokingly to me, “Now which guys can I get to buy me drinks?” I laugh and reply, “They’re right over there.” And that is exactly where they were: a group of 4 guys in dress slacks with button-up collar shirts with the top unbuttoned and no ties buying drinks at the bar.

These guys were completely unaware of the signals that they were sending. For one, they were in uniform. Four guys all in collar shirts without at least one loosened up tie among them. Instead of following the fashion as an expression of individuality mantra, they decided to go the “strength in numbers” route. Second, the outfits were trying to say, “We have money,” but they were really saying, “Please like us.” Of course we could feel the insecurity emanating in light years distance. Business casual does not have to look that desperate. I guess it just happened to look that way in a dark bar when the only people wearing business casual were the only dudes standing around each other. Thirdly, it was 11 p.m. I’m sure they had some uber-interesting story of being held up at the office into the wee hours of the night that they did not have time to change. They just didn’t look interesting enough to listen to their story.

Eventually, my dudes pulled through. As my attractive friend was in convo with one of her girlfriends, one wolf from the pack tapped her lightly on the shoulder (how’s that for game). As she turned around, he says, “Hello.” “Hello,” she replies. “How are you doing this night?” he asks cornily. “I’m fine, thank you.” and she turns around and walks away. On the way to bathroom, as my friend tries to weave through the bar patrons, one of the guys holds on to her waist in the guise of assisting her to get through. But we all know he was just trying to cop a feel.

I ask her why she didn’t get the guy to buy her a drink. And she says, “I couldn’t do them greasy like that.”

But we both knew he lost the game before he even got to play.

Dress like an insecure douchey investment banker, get treated like an insecure douchey investment banker.

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