Dressing For Myself

I have a confession to make and I believe it would resonate with most, if not all readers out there. And that has to do with dressing. 

When I was a little boy, I dressed for my parents. Whatever my parents though would look nice on me, I wore. Whether it was a T-shirt with a cartoon character or a striped shirt, I never once complained nor protested. 

When I started schooling, I dressed like my classmates and peers. When the centre parting hairstyle was in back then, I had that look. When it was hip to wear Bata shoes to school, I did the same. Things continued till varsity. What I saw other guys wear, I would follow suit. So you can generally imagine my wardrobe back then to comprise mostly of T-shirts and jeans. I hated shopping back then. To me, it was a chore (as with most men). I can still clearly remember walking into a particular clothes shop and buying all the different colours of the same design as I was totally clueless. As a teenager, all I wanted to do was to conform to the norm.

When I joined the workforce, things didn’t get any better. So I stuck to the same tried and tested colours of white, blue and grey. After all, how wrong can a man get if he sticks to these classic but boring colours right in the corporate world?

After years of becoming someone else’s carbon copy and seeing similar clones everywhere I turned, dressing lost all meaning for me. Wanting to decide what to wear was as easy as ABC. With so few choices and limited styles, dressing was just another hard science. I used to wonder why the women in my house would take such a long time figuring out what to wear even for a simple meal.

And because I was so similar to the rest of the men out there, groupthink probably kicked in as well as the lingo I spoke was also the same. 

Interestingly, things started to evolve for the better towards the tailend years in the corporate world. Sick and tired, I sought a change. 

As with many of the clients and workshop participants I work with now through my grooming workshops, I can emphatise with them the frustration and confusion as well they feel within. Why the need to overhaul your wardrobe when everything looks alright on the surface? Yet as we all know, wardrobe decluttering is not only for the brave and courageous. It is for the average man or lady who needs to update it from time to time. 

Now, I dress first for myself and secondly, for the occasion. I still have my whites, blues and greys but I pay extra attention to the shade of blue, the collar design, the material, the fit and other interesting details on the shirt. For the pants, I make a clear distinction between flat fronts and pleated ones. For shoes, I mix and match between laced ups and slip-ons. And today, I count shopping as one of my favourite past-times. I even bring my clients for shopping and advise them on what to buy!

It has been a very rewarding journey as I now see dressing as an art and not a science. Like what I always share, the need to leave an indelible impression in the minds of others is of utmost importance. People may not recall your name (as our attention span is often limited) but they can definitely recall an image of you should you project a positive, long-lasting one. Images are powerful as they help us to connect with the subconscious deep within. 

I believe I am my own walking advertisement showcasing my own brand. You should too. And by the way, the way you dress or what you choose to wear can very often be used as a good ice-breaker if you are lost for words. And when you start to dress for yourself, you confidence level increases tremendously because you naturally feel good inside. Just like me :p