Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Summation: Brown belt and black shoes — why fashion is stupid and makes no sense

Posted by shannonclark on November 23, 2004

Summation: Brown belt and black shoes — why fashion is stupid and makes no sense

I posted the following comment on Auren Huffman’s blog about fashion, ties, design, and grammar online:

Well a few thoughts.

– “fashion” in the sense of the latest,
seasonal “in” stuff is indeed fairly foolish. But “fashion” in the sense of high
quality, comfortable clothes that fit well – that’s not foolish at all.
Seperately from how it effects how others perceive you – for me, at least, it
effects how I deal with the world. When I am in a t-shirt from a tradeshow, worn
blue jeans, scuffed shoes, and a worn coat – I project a more casual, less
serious air to the world.

In contrast, when I am in a pair of pants that
fit, are well made, and clean, an interesting yet well fitting shirt, perhaps
with a nice sweater or a good jacket, polished shoes, and a clean outercoat – I
project an air of confidence and comfort that changes how I deal with others. It
can be a subtle thing – but by reducing minor aggrevations (slightly scratchy
fabrics, shirts that don’t quite fit right, etc – there is less negative and
more positive surrounding me as I deal with the world.

I have clothes
that range from Italian designer to thrift store specials – when I spend the
time to care a bit about how I appear, it follows me into the rest of my
interactions that day.

Likewise, with respect to grammar and spelling –
especially online – I find it can be a proxy for context and seriousness of the
interaction. Casual, hurried interactions with little (usually) thought given to
them tend to also be full of grammar and spelling errors (SMS messages being the
perhaps worst case of this, though it might be argued that they are evolving
into communications in a new, pidgin language)

In contrast, a well
thought out and edited email or long-form blog post/webpage shows a different
level of focus and attention than the majority of blog or email communications.
This extra step communicates to me a greater investment in the communication –
and hence in the interaction.

For example – if someone sends me a
request to forward an introduction via a service such as LinkedIn or Spoke that
is full of spelling or grammar errors (or is even just to casual for the type of
communication) I tend to refuse to forward it for the very reason that the
communication appears unprofessional.

In contrast, a well written,
clearly written, concise email, even from someone I know only loosely is much
more likley to get read and acted upon – as their attention to detail is
telling.

My first screen in any mail or email I get is often right on
the addressing of the communication – anything sent to me as “Ms. Clark” or
“Mrs. Clark” is immediately significently negatively viewed (I am male –
something that anyone who meets me or spends a little time looking me up online
should easily be able to determine). It takes a great deal to get past that
initial gaffe should it be made.

If you think of Fashion as being
related to Design – perhaps you can also rethink its seemingly lack of purpose.
Good, classic, well fitting clothes do serve purposes – they employ various
tricks to hide/emphasize different aspects of the wearer. They change how the
wearer stands, sits, perhaps walks – all of which then, in turn, change how he
(or she) interacts with the world around them.

In part this may be a
West Coast vs. Midwest thing – here in the midwest, clothing besides being
comfortable/covering is also often functional. In the winter, especially, layers
offer great protection from the elements.

Shannon

(my rule of
thumb for ties – I try to wear only ties that random strangers on the street
might stop me and remark “cool tie” – that is a piece of clothing that goes
beyond “working” with my suit to commanding positive attention – usually works
pretty well, though it can be hard to find ties that fit this some years,
especially the past few)

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