We never wore school uniforms. But, back then, we did have a dress code. According to our teachers – and our parents – dressing ‘properly’ would put us in the mood for school. Well, we never quite got in the mood for school, no matter how well-coded we may have been. Even so, we must admit that there was a certain amount of mood attached to our grungier after-school sneakers and jeans. They almost shoved us toward the basketball court. Or over the hill to play a little baseball.
So maybe the neat, pressed school stuff did keep us… well, restrained, anyway. And if sitting still (or reasonably so) can be construed as ‘in the mood for school,’ I guess we got as close as ‘suitable attire’ could force us to be. Which is to say that, much as we hate to admit it, what we wore mattered. And as far as we can see, it still does. Go to a Wall Street interview in your Levi jeans and Air Jordans and see how you make out. Of course, when you get to be CEO, it will probably be considered cool.
But what you wear is about more than simply what the world thinks of you. When a teenager dresses for Prom, even if she usually detests the dress-and-pumps thing, suddenly, on prom night, she actually wants to wear them. So maybe our teachers had a point. It’s not just Authority making demands on us. It’s US. Looking at ourselves in the mirror. Creating Who We Are at any given moment.
Ever notice the camaraderie of fans at a football game all wearing the same team jerseys? Heck, team jerseys even put you in the mood when you’re watching Monday night football on the sofa. Or – think about walking on the beach, waves gently lapping the shore, as you trudge along in your basic flannel business suit. And the more fun image, if not to your boss… although… well… we guess it all depends: you in your cubicle wearing a bikini.
And what would a wet tee shirt contest be if you wore a sweatshirt? But there’s an impact even beyond occasion. There’s simply the matter of What You Wear Making You Feel Good About You. Remember those fabulous lyrics from West Side Story? “I feel pretty, oh so pretty! I feel pretty and witty and bright! And I pity anyone who isn’t me tonight!” Now, Maria was all alone, looking in a mirror, as she sang. Because ‘being pretty’ was what she saw in herself. As a woman in love. Who knew she was loved in return.
Awwwww. Point is, beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. Fortunately, you are the beholder. And the good news is that you are free to orchestrate that which you see. Through your Air Jordans. Or your pearl necklace. Or your NFL jersey. Or your black lace teddy. Even so, we need to remember that image is most definitely not all. We happen to love Andre Agassi. But we hated that commercial.
Exterior decoration not withstanding, the image we have of ourselves in our own minds is the image that really counts. That tells us – and the world – who we truly are. In a very real way, we dictate our image to the world. Sort of like a backwards mirror. How we see ourselves becomes how the world sees us. Because we are the world, aren’t we? If not us, then who?
So sometimes that perfect little dress, that #2 baseball shirt, the Brett Favre Vikings jersey you got (or gave) for that fortieth birthday… they make you smile into the mirror. And Son of a Gun if the whole darn world doesn’t smile right back at ya! Hey, you may not be what you wear. But, obviously, it can put you in the mood. The mood for what is up to you.