What Our Appearance Says About Us

Whether we like it or not our appearance sets a picture in other people’s minds of the kind of person we are. Some people say looks shouldn’t matter; it’s what is inside that counts. That is true but subconsciously we all draw our own conclusions whether we realize it or not.

Think about people you see throughout your day. What are the first thoughts that come to mind when you see different individuals? The woman at the grocery store with messy hair, wearing pajamas with the hem dragging in the dirt; the man in filthy, holey clothes and facial stubble and another gentleman in a suit, tie and nice shoes. In our thoughts we draw a conclusion of each of these people’s status in society and their personal life story.

Employers make a decision early on in an interview. They have a perception of the kind of worker you will be based on how you are dressed, your weight, hair style and over all appearance. If you come in looking disheveled with wrinkled clothing (they don’t care if it is in style) and slouch when you sit, they get the idea that you are lazy. You didn’t care about the way you look and more than likely your job performance will be the same.

People who are neat in appearance, take extra care with their make-up, hair and clothing gives us the mental picture of a put together individual who is meticulous with details. We see them as someone who will make sure the project is done well.

Perception is different for everyone depending on your life experiences and the kind of people you have come in contact with in your past.

I’ve noticed, for instance, men’s hair. It was a point of contention in the 70’s for boys to have long hair in school. There was a rule that their hair couldn't touch their collar (oh yes, they had to wear collars too) and if it got too long they were sent home. Eventually celebrities and news anchor men wore theirs longer and the schools loosened their guidelines. In the 80’s everyone was used to it and it was no big deal.

There was a time when zoot suits were considered bad and some establishments wouldn’t allow men that wore them past their doorway. They had a gangster reputation. Watch old movies and see if you don’t get that impression when you see these men enter the scene.

A person dressed like a rapper puts a certain idea in mind. Your past experience draws you a picture of his personality, way of speaking and behavior. These young men might be harmless, educated and intelligent but first glance we decide they are bad boys. Lyrics to the songs paint us a portrait of illegal behavior, promiscuous habits and no one we would want our daughters to be seen with.

A few people behave in a certain manner while dressing a certain way and that gets imbedded in our mind as the definition of that look.

Tattoos are a subject of recent discussion. At one time it was associated with bikers and the rough crowd but now you are just as likely to see an executive sporting one. My father in law was a banker in the 70's but prior to that he was in the Navy and had a few colorful additions to his arms. They showed through his white dress shirt so he had them burned off. During that time it wasn’t acceptable to have a tattoo. Even now I’ve seen some young people in restaurants and stores with bandages over their ink and piercings so it doesn’t offend the customers. Some employers are more lenient than others.

And speaking of piercings there was a time when only bad girls got their ears pierced. Some cultures found it a sign of beauty but western countries were slow to catch on. Eventually it became fashionable and now you seldom see a woman without her ears pierced.

What picture are you presenting to society? What manner of dress or style offends you?

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Comments 22 comments

Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

A person in a suit makes me want to say sir and in bluejeans to ask how's the fishing...though a lady in a dress does get my attention in a respectful manner over a girl with jeans as mabey more accessable.;)

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma Author

If a woman is dressed like a lady men will open doors for her more often than not.

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Appearance is reality. When I used to hire, I simply dismissed out of hand those who showed up looking like bums. If they didn't even care enough to make a good appearance, why would they care about doing a good job?

Burning tattoos off is now big business.

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Will, it amazes me how people dress for interviews sometimes.

You can have tattoos lasered off now days and it's much less invasive. My father in law had big ugly scars from his removal.

Carmen 5 years ago

It's true.....I dress up to go to school. Pretty tunics, leggings, stylish boots, stylish hair cut, make up, pretty dresses with little sweaters, etc....It makes a very good impression on Instructors even if you aren't the best student in the class. You also get much respect from guys being dressed VERY nice and with some modesty.

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Thanks for reading, Carmen. It does make a difference. People take us more serious when we make an effort.

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

Appearance definitely counts. While we've been told to look beyond outward appearance, still, it's the first thing that presents itself to the eyes. Thanks.

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Yes, anginwu, we all do it.

andycool profile image

andycool 5 years ago from the U.S.

According to me your inner-self is reflected to a certain extent in your appearance. People try to guess about that inner-self by assessing your appearance... and what else can they do to judge you? Sometimes they're right in judging you and sometimes (most of the times I think, because it's a difficult task) they're wrong. Anyway thank you for focusing on such an intelligent subject!

Daniel Fonda profile image

Daniel Fonda 5 years ago from Slovenia

Personally I tend to judge men with long not organised hair. I really try to accept each and every person for who he or she is. But I just can't help it to think, that people, trying to pull of the rock star look from the '70s simply aren't serious in life and business. Oh well - maybe it's just me.

lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida

There is more to the picture than what the interviewer thinks of an applicant's appearance. He/she must also think of the image this person will portray of the business. While there are some businesses where it is a plus to look extraordinary, most businesses want a conservative image. Something to keep in mind while interviewing -- you will represent your employer: do you present the image that employer wants?

Treasuresofheaven profile image

Treasuresofheaven 5 years ago from Michigan

Appearance is extremely important. It is always good to get a second opinion if you are in doubt. The video is cute and makes a point. Good hub!

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Andy, that is true. Our personality does come forth in our outer appearance.

Daniel, it's a generation thing. I am used to men with long hair and like that look better than the shorn look. As long as it is clean and groomed it looks good.

Lynda, we do have to consider the company we will work for and makes sure our dress reflects the image of the business.

Treasure, I get a kick out of that video too. I like to add an element of humor when I can.

Thank you all for reading.

katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

So true, clothes, appearance, grooming makes the man or woman and totally alters your attitude bringing even more to the mix. Great read on what our appearance says about us! :) Katie

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Thanks Katie. With so many trying to find employment it's very important to make sure our appearance is A+.

hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 5 years ago from Oregon, USA

All dress is for effect. If you want employment you need to say so harder than your competition. Just being there doesn't cut it. That says you want a paycheck. Great. So does everyone. Wearing your rappa outfit and tattoos makes a statement about what a cool unique individual you are. Cool & unique plus $3.50 will get you a starbucks. Taking a little time with your appearance conveys you are willing to actually work, since you were willing to put a little effort into the impression you made. That's what THEY want. It's so obvious, but so many people don't get it.

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma Author

It's even more important today with the lack of jobs available. The competition is harsh and young people need to be aware how important it is to look their very best.

5 years ago

I agree that conservative dress can be important in jobs or at least in interviews. But around here even some bank employees have tattoos, for instance; it all depends how tastefully it's done, I guess.

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma Author

F some areas and employers are more lenient than others but in this competitive world we have to consider that some things may not be accepted in certain fields of work. They may not come out and tell a person that is the reason for the exclusion but it might be.

BecauseIloveyou profile image

BecauseIloveyou 4 years ago from PA USA

When I hired I always looked at people's shoes, not so much about their appearance. Their shoes reveal a lot more than the suit/dress, make up and haircut. Worn heals show how badly they need the job. Neat shoes show attention to detail. Matching shoes show style better than a resume. If they match the resume I had my new employee. This hub is very helpful. Thanks for posting.

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

I hadn't thought of that. I notice the whole picture.

BecauseIloveyou profile image

BecauseIloveyou 4 years ago from PA USA

Pamela: That is why hubs are so inspiring: We all work together to make a WHOLE picture, since none of us are complete without each other. Each of us can contribute and complement each other. Your article inspired me a lot to write about women's role in life, so we might achieve a better society one day, even when it is only in some homes. God bless you!

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