How We Look at Each Other
I’ve always been a bit frivolous and uninvolved with fashion. I like nice things, but I don’t like to spend time acquiring them, maintaining them, or thinking about the right thing to wear. Maybe it’s because I grew up with the luxury of school uniforms. Maybe it’s because I try not to define people by their clothes and their hairstyle. I say try because I know that I still do.
- When someone comes to a geek party looking like she just stepped off of a yacht, I think she might have missed the boat on connecting with this group.
- When a guy’s hair is dyed so screaming comic book pink I have to fight to see the face beneath it, I wonder what he doesn’t want me to see.
- When I’m in a room of highly fashion savvy people, I start shrinking a bit and wondering what other cool things they know that I don’t.
It’s not fair really, but I think things based on what people are wearing. We all do. We sort with our eyes before anyone even says a word. We assume a person’s visual presentation reflects his or her choices, values, and intelligence. We gravitate toward people who choose as we do. People who look like who they are and what they’re saying get our trust more easily. When the clothes and the conversation don’t match, we go with what we see.
How could I have been slow to realize that a disconnect in what people see would make it harder for them to “get” me? I connect more easily with people online than off.
Let’s consider something as simple as a pair of jeans. Who’d have thought that a new pair of jeans would shift my ability to connect by 180 degrees?
Do Leaders Wear Jeans?
When I first went to The Image Studios last fall, I was told that my jeans had to go. I argued with the idea.
I work with geeks. I don’t want to look younger, but I don’t want to look something I’m not. AND I sure don’t want to look my mother!
The smart stylist who had just met me. Let it go.
These jeans you have on are baggy, traditional, and acid washed. They say who you were. You need jeans that communicate who you are. In your case, they need to speak to Connected, Irresistible, Intuitive, Creative and Loving.
Jeans communication. Strangely enough I sort of got what she was saying. The jeans I had were from the 90s. They looked old fashioned and comfortable — not alive, creative, and innovative. My jeans drove off in a bag of Good Will donations for someone who authentically is still living in a baggy, traditional, acid washed world.
With no time to lose, I bought the new pair, contemporary and well fit. Suddenly, I understood — soon as I put them on I felt more “with it.” I’m sure I looked more connected to now than 10 years ago.
The new jeans (right) add credibility. I look like I know the ideas that suit the world now.
Do they change my thinking? Of course not. But they underscore my values before I even talk. That’s what this visible authenticity project is all about — being seen, heard, and understood on every level. When your jeans are working for you, you don’t have to work so hard.
Baggy, traditional, acid-washed jeans doesn’t communicate my ideas or my values.
Contemporary, well-fitting, one-of-kind jeans worth talking about do.
Does what you wear show who you are?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!