When I was in college, I became overly obsessive over the topic of perception, in terms of how everyone viewed each other according to their appearance.
I wondered how a person’s behavior towards another was affected by appearance, whether certain things about a person’s looks affected how he/she was treated/perceived, and so on (which is probably what led me to study Psychology later on).
Such brought so much emotional and intellectual conflict in me that I even seriously considered changing part of my appearance to see what difference it would make in my social life (yes, I’ve always been a guinea pig for all kinds of self-initiated psychological experiments which is most likely going to be a lifelong thing now that I think about it. But for this particular study, it was going to be nothing excessively dramatic; something like suddenly going totally blonde… or tan, you know).
but of course, the situation at the time didn’t quite allow such a dramatic change in my appearance (I did hold an office job at a financial company which required me to dress rather conservatively…) so unfortunately, I didn’t get to experiment… until years later, which is… actually quite recent, say couple years back.
I didn’t go completely blonde but close enough. If you go back to maybe posts from 2011… you might see some pictures..?
Most important is whether there was a change in the way people treated me since the transformation. Well, it only happened a few months before I quit my other “conservative job” so I couldn’t dig deeper into the topic but they did mistake me for a new white girl when they saw me (or my head) in the cubicle one day. I don’t know, I think people were confused for sure though because for years, I had successfully hid my second identity as a so-called-fashion blogger (oh gosh, how I enjoy calling myself that). Basically, I was just another office worker who wore the same black trousers paired with below-average flats that were falling apart (literally) on a daily basis, with barely any makeup, hair tied up… on a good day, you’d even see me in my nerdy glasses and ugly socks.
But as soon as I got home from work, I’d put on my black cat-eye eyeliners, crazy heels, and experiment with all kinds of both thrifted and luxurious things (both clothes and accessories) so we can shoot for the blog… and I enjoyed every moment of it because this was my way out, out to freedom where I can breathe.
It made me happy, but when Monday came, my boring self came back… but now that I look back, I wonder what would have happened if I had dressed the same way to work? People sometimes say that you are what you wear.. how you present yourself is what will eventually put you in that dream job of yours, blah blah. Oh yeah, I know another one, that fashion is a way to express who you are (actually, think I’m the one that said this in one of the interviews.. lol), or even how you feel. Doh! yes, that’s exactly how I felt about that job. no shame.
but yes, what if I dressed all crazy (but creative and stylish maybe) everyday, complete with bleached hair and crazy high heels and all? Would I have gotten that promotion? Would I have not gotten into trouble with so and so? Would those people on top have shown me more respect? I don’t know, but what’s certain is what you wear is indeed pretty important especially at a work place, and it’s partly because it shows how “serious” you are about the job… I mean, in that sense, my boring outfits were just a reflection of who I was in that particular organization.
Oh wait, you know what, I remember clearly now. I actually dressed quite nicely when I had first started the job. And then slowly… as I started losing trust, respect, enthusiasm, hope, along with everything else, my wardrobe started changing too. Towards the end of it all, it was obvious I belonged somewhere else, that somewhere else being Fashion.. hello?! lol
I hope I’m not sidetracking too much but yeah, the point is that I’m happy right now… so happy to a point I sometimes have to manually press a “stop” button so that I don’t sound like I’m boasting. If you’ve been in fashion all your life and have been smothered in fashion-everything, you would never understand. But if you’ve been through what I have been through (spending many, many years doing something completely different which you found to be relatively dull), you know what I’m talking about. It’s truly a dream come true, and I already feel like I’m on retirement. Oh, yes.
I think… if the same people from my previous jobs saw me now, they may not even recognize me, not only because of the way I dress now but also because of how much I’ve changed as a person, to a person who is happy, positive, proactive, passionate, and assertive.
In relation to the initial topic of the post: perception, I’m pretty sure most of us are aware of this truth, but how you are perceived is heavily influenced by your attitude and mental state, aside from appearance aka what you wear (whether on your body or skin). No matter how “badass” you try to make yourself look, you are really only telling the world that you secretly are a softie and are seeking affection- well, that is, unless you are a fantastic actor.
It also goes for how you present yourself- what’s inside you affects how you dress yourself and how you carry yourself, which in turn, affects how you are treated by others. How much effort you put into dressing yourself is closely related to how you feel about the person you are meeting, the occasion, and the purpose, which can leave either a positive or negative impression about yourself, something extremely especially important when it comes to interviews.
On that note, dressing nicely has never seemed so purposeful.
There was a time when I couldn’t understand when people would tell me that it’s better to dress fancy than casual no matter the occasion. Looking back at my own experience, I know better now…
Well.. although, I probably will always choose casual over formal any day. ;P
Black shorts suit, Printed sheer button down blouse, & Houndstooth print shorts by Lie Sang Bong. Shoes by Jeffrey Campbell. Ray-ban Aviators. Chanel 2.55 Reissue.