Dress for Success

The idea for this post came from a discussion on Facebook about how to dress as a professional massage therapist. It probably applies to all walks of life in a lot of areas, but it got me to thinking about the impressions that we make, either deliberately or subconsciously.

Dress standards have changed.

Society has become increasingly relaxed in its dress standards over the course of my lifetime. I am 63 years old and remember when women only wore dresses. There were “house dresses” and “dressy dresses.” You wouldn’t be seen dead in public in less than a dressy dress. You had to get dressed up to go to the grocery store, and around the house, you wore more comfortable dresses, but always with an apron (or as my grandmother called them, “front apron”) to keep your clothes clean.

dress for successIn the sixties, women finally started wearing slacks. I remember how shocked I was the first time my mother wore slacks!

Nowadays, as witnessed by the ever-popular “people of Walmart” website, people will go out in public wearing (nor NOT wearing) any old thing. My grandmother is turning in her grave, I’m sure.

Anyway, the gist of the post on Facebook was that this professional had gone to a large gathering of health care professionals in a professional environment, and was shocked and embarrassed by the attire worn by her fellow massage therapists. While other professions attending showed up in clean, pressed, appropriate attire, the MTs looked like a bunch of slobs in cut-offs, wrinkled t-shirts and scrubs, low-cut tops, and other overly-casual attire. The point was well-taken and I was forced to take a look at my own appearance, which has suffered lately from a case of apathy.

After all, there’s no one here but me; my clients have their eyes closed most of the time and they certainly don’t care what I’m wearing. Why bother? I have put on some weight and my scrubs were looking kind of shabby with lotion stains on the hem, so I used that as an excuse not to change my clothes every day.

Time to return to better values.

It’s time to shape up! I bought a new uniform. I’m re-committed to spiffing myself up a little bit every day.

There was a lot of negative feedback to the post along the lines of “you have no right to judge” and “I will wear what I want because it’s the work that matters.” This is the general attitude of a society that has let our public appearance slide from dressing your best all the time, to your “best” being wrinkled and dirty t-shirts and jeans. In a world where there are a lot of slobs in the business world, dressing well would probably attract more clients to my world, so I’m going to re-commit to having a better image.

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