Stop Making Bad First Impressions With Your Fashion

4 min read

It only takes a few seconds before someone already had their first impression of you.

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Think about the first impression that you’re trying to create in an interview for a job that you really want or the school you want to enter.

Let’s walk through the scenario. You meet the person. How long before you have a gist of the personality that you have created of your interviewer (and possibly what the interviewer thinks of you). Probably less than a second before all these different ideas and feelings came to you.

Let’s say that the first impression wasn’t necessarily positive of the person. How long will it take before this negative first impression is reversed. Depending on the sources you look, some say it takes about seven encounters of positive interaction before the negative first impression is diminished. Unfortunately, we don’t get seven chances in life.

So why does this matter, and what does this have anything to do with fashion?

You make judgments of other people in an instant all the time. Think about the guy/girl you saw on the subway on your commute to work. You probably had created some story of that person just solely based on what the person was wearing, skin color, hair, eyes, etc. Whether the story is good or bad, we can’t help ourselves.

So, how would fashion play a role in all this? Yes, in many aspects fashion can be extremely superficial and materialistic to the point of being unhealthy as people start to chase after the wrong things in life. After all, it can be used to symbolize wealth and status although this isn’t the sole purpose of fashion. Yet, the way we portray ourselves through the clothes we wear could be a powerful tool in certain cases.

Depending on the perception that you want to create of yourself, you have some control in terms of the direction that people’s thoughts flow when they have that initial contact. But that doesn’t mean you should style yourself solely to impress others or have them think highly of you. Honestly, in my opinion trying to do that just leaves you looking like you have a lack of ability to express your ideal image of beauty without the influence of society. At the same time, if you completely ignore all societal ideas, you might seem a bit off. There should be a some balance.

Fashion/styling has two audiences: the self and everyone else. For the self, we form the ideas that certain styles portray for ourselves. We’ll take GUCCI as an example. GUCCI is one of the leading brands today, and their story is certainly not told by the brand itself. Rather, we, have created certain ideas surrounding GUCCI. It has a sense of luxury and elevated status with an extensive work of artistry manifested in forms of clothes and visuals (or at least this is the idea that I created). Certainly, there are significant differences in our perception of the brand as the outsiders (the audience) when compared to perception of the people that lead the brand image of GUCCI (the self). While there are discrepancies, the general vibe that most people would have is positive.

This can be applied to us at an individual level. We have a certain idea of ourselves that is probably different from how others see us. The level of discrepancy would vary depending on the audience. For example, my parents think that some things I wear are ridiculous, like my MISBHV hoodie that has inverted stitching. They ask me if I need money to buy better clothes.  But, my friends wouldn’t think the same. In the end, it’s my choice in what I define as fashionable and the audience that I want to connect to. That’s not to say I dress to look cool in front of my peers. You’ll never see me wear GUCCI head to toe just to flex on IG, because that goes against my principles that I have of fashion and self-image.

First impressions matter to everyone. Even though I care very little of what people might think of my taste in fashion, I still make sure I have a balance to weigh out the perceptions of both audiences.

Hopefully, this post helps you thinking about your self-image, fashion, and first impressions in a more thoughtful way (as opposed to just being about brands).

Isaac Jeong