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Clothing and the "Image."

"Image" here meaning the perception we project based on how we look combined with what we wear. It's been in the back of my mind since mentioning my hesitation that flat caps might make me look like a thug, as this is the effect when I wear a fedora with a suit. Doc4 correctly pointed out that it might not be the hat. Yet what we wear can alter the image we project.

What really bought it home was a surprise hat acquisition today. Came across a hard shell toyo straw cowboy hat in an off-white finish and a black fake leather band with light color metal studs evenly spaced about it. Has three grommetted air holes on each side. liked it, wife liked how it looked on me, and I bought it. Quickly determined this is way too nice, despite the price, to be an every day hat. But it "fits" in more ways than one. The image it projects in my every day clothes is a friendly one. Sure, it's all hat and no cattle (we used to have a small herd - does that count?), but it conveys a completely different image than a fedora and suit.

Not an isolated case, naturally. When I put on overalls and a style of straw hat favored by a grandfather, I look like a farmer. Snap up the sides of my boonie hat, and my wife and all the offspring say I look like a Cajun (?). My usual straw hat makes me look like a farmer, too. My Panamas give a more nondescript image (though one person thought it had a "Mafia" look, I just don't see it). I've been known to tie a bandana on my head to keep sweat out of my eyes, and that gives me a "biker" image if I'm not wearing a hat on top of it.

How does what you wear affect how you look to others?
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
I feel bad that no one has responded to this posting. I do not think I have particular pieces of clothing that so specifically and/or radically affect how I look to others, though.
 

Doc4

Moderator Emeritus
It's been in the back of my mind since mentioning my hesitation that flat caps might make me look like a thug, as this is the effect when I wear a fedora with a suit. Doc4 correctly pointed out that it might not be the hat. Yet what we wear can alter the image we project.
How does what you wear affect how you look to others?
One of the most important things we wear is our own face. Our own skin.

Sometimes, what we wear, or the look we aim for, can seem "wrong" ... for us.

Bing Crosby the cowboy?
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John Wayne in a tuxedo?
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... nah, much better the other way 'round.

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"Image" here meaning the perception we project based on how we look combined with what we wear. It's been in the back of my mind since mentioning my hesitation that flat caps might make me look like a thug, as this is the effect when I wear a fedora with a suit. Doc4 correctly pointed out that it might not be the hat. Yet what we wear can alter the image we project.

What really bought it home was a surprise hat acquisition today. Came across a hard shell toyo straw cowboy hat in an off-white finish and a black fake leather band with light color metal studs evenly spaced about it. Has three grommetted air holes on each side. liked it, wife liked how it looked on me, and I bought it. Quickly determined this is way too nice, despite the price, to be an every day hat. But it "fits" in more ways than one. The image it projects in my every day clothes is a friendly one. Sure, it's all hat and no cattle (we used to have a small herd - does that count?), but it conveys a completely different image than a fedora and suit.

Not an isolated case, naturally. When I put on overalls and a style of straw hat favored by a grandfather, I look like a farmer. Snap up the sides of my boonie hat, and my wife and all the offspring say I look like a Cajun (?). My usual straw hat makes me look like a farmer, too. My Panamas give a more nondescript image (though one person thought it had a "Mafia" look, I just don't see it). I've been known to tie a bandana on my head to keep sweat out of my eyes, and that gives me a "biker" image if I'm not wearing a hat on top of it.

How does what you wear affect how you look to others?
I like this thread and I think I understand what you're saying. For example, 30 years ago I was trying to break into management; so I wore dark suits, french cuff shirts, braces (i.e., suspenders), and cuffed trousers....basically I was hoping to project a certain image. I even considered putting some gray in my hair, as I was often the youngest person in the room and I had a "baby face". I guess it helped -- probably didn't hurt. If I had to pick something out of my ensemble, it's the cuff links. French cuffs are not as prevalent today as they were then, and they were sort of going out fashion then.

By the way, one of the firms I worked for (a top management consulting firm) used to have straw hats as part of their dress code (I think it went out in the early to mid 70's). I don't know hats well at all; the pictures I've seen of the consultants at the time wearing the hats, well it reminded me of a barbershop quartet hat -- if that makes sense. Straw with a black band. It looked out of place with a dark suit, but that was the "uniform" of the day, and everyone knew what firm you worked for.

These days my work clothes are slacks and shirt for my white collar job, and similar attire (albeit threadbare stuff) for when I'm working on the farm in my off-time. And I must admit, that I don't give nearly the consideration of what perceptions or conclusions people draw based on my attire around here. I live in a rural area, and I didn't grow up here (my wife did), so I'm an outsider regardless of what I wear, how I speak, or how I behave. It is what it is, but I must admit that I found city living (NYC, SF, Chicago) easier. City people really didn't seem to care what I wore, where I was from, what church I did or didn't attend, or what my political beliefs were...can't say the same for the part of the country I'm in now.
 
I’ve been told I look mean and have a smile like a wolverine on a good day.

My wife picks out clothes for me so I seem ‘less menacing’ I guess.

If it were up to me it’d be black jeans, motorcycle boots and a black t shirt every day. The tattoos and 2 foot long beard don’t help, I suppose.

All things said and done, you’re more likely to find me at a library than a bar anymore, though...
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
I am glad I nudged this thread!

Sinatra and Crosby look like they were born to wear tuxedos, don't they. Marin looks like he slept in his, which I guess works, too.

That Bing Crosby cowboy photo is unfair! Bing could rock some western duds when he was serious about it. BING CROSBY - Another Ride in Cowboy Country - Amazon.com Music - https://www.amazon.com/Another-Country-ORIGINAL-RECORDINGS-REMASTERED/dp/B00008ZHSY

By the way, one of the firms I worked for (a top management consulting firm) used to have straw hats as part of their dress code
I am fascinated. I thought I knew my way around the major consulting houses, but I had never heard of this. The imagination runs wild! You mean barber shop quartet boater/skimmer straw hats, as if the entire delegation was going to suddenly burst into song in four part harmony? I mean Booze Allen was well-known for the blue blazer and dress slacks when meeting with clients so as not to dress too far above the client, but straw hats is really going the extra mile to put the rural client at ease!!

I guess it helped -- probably didn't hurt.
Oh, I am guessing it helped a lot. And the opposite would have hurt, a lot. People who care, would have thought you either did not know how to dress, or that you were dressing out of step in order to make some kind of rebellious statement against the people who dressed consistent with the culture.

I live in a rural area, and I didn't grow up here (my wife did), so I'm an outsider regardless of what I wear, how I speak, or how I behave.
So, how long have you lived in Vermont? :) (I have no idea where you live. My wife is from Vermont, though, and as much as I truly love that state, you are never a real Vermonter, if you grew up outside Vermont, not matter how long you live there. Not that real Vermonters will not be friendly and tolerant, in a New England kind of way, of course.

It is what it is, but I must admit that I found city living (NYC, SF, Chicago) easier. City people really didn't seem to care what I wore, where I was from, what church I did or didn't attend, or what my political beliefs were...can't say the same for the part of the country I'm in now.
It is a truth you do not often hear, isn't it? Rural areas and small towns often get credit for being friendly and accepting compared to urban centers, and it often just ain't so at all. Actually, you probably are not in Vermont after all. Despite their natural New England reserve, I doubt if the average Vermonter is going to care what you wear or what church you go to or do not go to, much less what political beliefs you have or do not have. I suppose some might have some lingering prejudice against French Canadians, but that is based more on history than anything else.
 
I am glad I nudged this thread!
I'm glad you nudged this thread too!!!

I am fascinated. I thought I knew my way around the major consulting houses, but I had never heard of this. The imagination runs wild! You mean barber shop quartet boater/skimmer straw hats, as if the entire delegation was going to suddenly burst into song in four part harmony? I mean Booze Allen was well-known for the blue blazer and dress slacks when meeting with clients so as not to dress too far above the client, but straw hats is really going the extra mile to put the rural client at ease!!
It was one of those tidbits of history they threw at us in orientation....plus there were a few pics. And yes, I think they were skimmers -- which really didn't say "business expert" to me, but I guess management liked them. I should probably leave it there, I don't know about the other "houses", but "the Firm" was and is REALLY keen on it's privacy....not that skimmer hats are really a trade secret :lol1: [/QUOTE]

Oh, I am guessing it helped a lot. And the opposite would have hurt, a lot. People who care, would have thought you either did not know how to dress, or that you were dressing out of step in order to make some kind of rebellious statement against the people who dressed consistent with the culture.
I like to think you're right. I grew up as a military brat, which meant every 3 to 4 years I had to move to another part of the country (or another country) and immediately try to fit in -- or pay a heavy price as an outsider. So I tend to be wired to "assimilate" as fast as possible.

So, how long have you lived in Vermont? :) (I have no idea where you live. My wife is from Vermont, though, and as much as I truly love that state, you are never a real Vermonter, if you grew up outside Vermont, not matter how long you live there. Not that real Vermonters will not be friendly and tolerant, in a New England kind of way, of course.
I've only been in Vermont about.....just kidding. I'm in a southern state.

It is a truth you do not often hear, isn't it? Rural areas and small towns often get credit for being friendly and accepting compared to urban centers, and it often just ain't so at all. Actually, you probably are not in Vermont after all. Despite their natural New England reserve, I doubt if the average Vermonter is going to care what you wear or what church you go to or do not go to, much less what political beliefs you have or do not have. I suppose some might have some lingering prejudice against French Canadians, but that is based more on history than anything else.
I definitely know about the French Canadian thing. My mom is from Maine and her whole side of the family came in from Quebec -- her first language was french and she grew up in the part of city known as the "bad side of town" aka "the french ghetto". I remember hearing a lot of "french jokes" when we'd visit. With most of the mills gone, the separation and bias against the Canadian-immigrants is pretty tamped down (at least around there)...probably because the whole area is now economically depressed.

In my current part of the county it's different, but the same. Between childhood and adulthood I've probably lived in well over a dozen different places, and I'm always struck by how simultaneously different and the same places and people are....but generally the cities are more alike than dissimilar and I guess the same goes for the rural areas as well.

Okay, I've taken us wayyyyy off topic -- it has been fun; but we should probably turn back to our regularly scheduled programming. :001_smile
 
I feel bad that no one has responded to this posting. I do not think I have particular pieces of clothing that so specifically and/or radically affect how I look to others, though.
Thanks, but no reason to feel bad. I took no replies to mean no interest. That didn't bother me at all.
 
Here's a local example:

In the 1920s, you had to go to a city to find a car dealer. The local wealthy man had made his fortune in forest products and shrewd investment, and never changed how he dressed. Looked like he'd just walked out of the woods. He got someone to go with him on the long trip to buy a new car, and the salesman kept talking to his friend. When his friend told the salesman "You need to be talking to this fellow here; he's buying the car."

The salesman took him aside and said "Can he afford it?"

The wealthy man overheard him, and told him to call a certain bank, gave him his name, and ask about his financial standing. Salesman went into the office, and when he came out, he had a completely different attitude.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
"the Firm" was and is REALLY keen on it's privacy
"The Firm" nomenclature coupled with an obsession with privacy means just one possible place to me! Now i am truly impressed with your skimmer story. Those old-line institutions have their strange customs. Cravath on the legal side certainly does, or has in the past.

I'm in a southern state.
Yeah, I figured. That which church reference in 2019 is way more likely to be the south--more or less where my family is from--than New England. I do not really know about the Midwest.

So I tend to be wired to "assimilate" as fast as possible.
You do not hear this said much either--and fools rush in, they say, so maybe I should not be saying it--but being able to assimilate quickly--being sensitive to that and being able to do it--is something one can "sell" in the business world. So maybe your suffering as a kid was worth it. (Long term childhood friends may be overrated anyway! :) )

the separation and bias against the Canadian-immigrants is pretty tamped down (at least around there)
I would hope so. It was kind of a complicated thing. The French in the New World, from the Cajuns to
Québécois immigrants to New England did not have an easy time of it. It was not fair. In 2019 it seems a little hard to imagine.

I've taken us wayyyyy off topic
I don't know. It seems all of a piece to me. :)
 

Doc4

Moderator Emeritus
That Bing Crosby cowboy photo is unfair! Bing could rock some western duds when he was serious about it.
I will disagree.

This is the photo you were linking to:
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Here's a couple more in the same vein.
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Now, compare those to Jimmy Stewart in cowboy duds:

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... and Henry Fonda thrown in for good measure.

To me, Bing looks like a city slicker who went to the Cowboy Store and bought himself some new duds for his weekend in the country, knowing there would be a photo shoot. Jimmy and Henry look like they've lived in those clothes for a year, wrangling cattle.

Okay ... was Bing any less of an accomplished western outdoorsman than Jimmy, Henry (or the Duke)? Dunno. But my point was more that he didn't have the face or the temperament (willing to adjust to a better word to describe that later ...) to really "look the part" of a "real" cowboy.

He's much more of a "cardigan, pipe, and golf club" sort of guy.
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Some of you may remember the movie "The Devil's Brigade" ... about a combined US/Canadian special forces unit that fought the Nazis in WWII. Great movie; and the Canadian sergeant is played admirably by Jack Watson ...

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... now, can you see him in any role other than the crusty Sergeant Major? The man all his troops look up to and rely upon? Not that he couldn't do other roles equally well, but ...

... I guess my bottom line is that one needs to take one's face into account when figuring out one's "look". Play up one's strengths, and downplay or conceal the weaknesses. (Abraham Lincoln was, rumour has it, told to grow a beard to cover a weak chin. Many others have received similar advice.)

Know what you are working with, and work with it to the best advantage.

That being said, when seeing others, realise that what you see isn't always what you get. Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson both had success in Hollywood after military service in WWII ... and really looked the part of the @$$-kicking tough guy.
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Google Image search will turn up oodles of great "tough guy" photos ... but I suspect anyone familiar with either actor will only need to hear the name to know they really looked the part and played the part ... in addition to real-life military credentials. They are what you expect your military heroes to look like ... those are the guys who won the day at Omaha and Peleliu, Bastogne and Iwo Jima.

(continued in next post ...)
 

Doc4

Moderator Emeritus
... not some baby-faced kid like this:
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Google "Audie Murphy".
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Doc4

Moderator Emeritus
Great discussion.

I am glad I nudged this thread!
I took no replies to mean no interest. That didn't bother me at all.
But you had taken the time to write a long post interesting to me. And i think it was of interest to others, too!
Glad you nudged the thread.

Thoughtful, insightful posts are one of the best things about B&B. The discussion resulting, too. I guess one drawback or inherent problem with such posts is that they require thought and contemplation for a worthy response, and that takes time. One can't really blurt out a one-liner and leave it at that.

One sees the post, thinks "I have to give that some thought", goes away before premature posting ... and then one thing leads to another and one may not get back to do the post (or find time sufficient to type it in).

Thankfully, someone will come along and nudge the post ... and the cogitators into posting at last.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
I admit I had to dig in Google for a photo of Bing in cowboy attire that looked at all convincing! I thought the one I found was pretty good though. In most of them, he seemed to want to wear a satin shirt and/or fancy gold embroidery on his shirt, and/or a pretty silk kerchief around his neck. And I do not know what he was trying to say with that robin's egg blue hat in your (Doc4) second photo down. That is why I said he could "rock some western duds when he was serious about it." I assume most of the time he was making a joke of the effort.

I love the Henry Fonda photo and the Jimmy Stewart one, too. They are selling it in those photos.

This is not to say I am a big Bing Crosby fan. I think it is hard to believe in 2019 just how popular he was at one time. I suppose the child beating stuff might alter my perception. But maybe it is a 2019 sensibility, to, that makes me think when I see these photos that he seems phony, dandified, priggish. No one I would want to spend time with.
 

Doc4

Moderator Emeritus
This is not to say I am a big Bing Crosby fan. I think it is hard to believe in 2019 just how popular he was at one time. I suppose the child beating stuff might alter my perception. But maybe it is a 2019 sensibility, to, that makes me think when I see these photos that he seems phony, dandified, priggish. No one I would want to spend time with.
To lift a phrase from the OP ...
"Image" here meaning the perception we project based on how we look combined with what we wear ...
... and I'll add "...combined with what we wear and with the perception people have of us based on our public/known persona as seen through our words and deeds, actual and perceived."

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Mid-century stylish perfection ... or ... just a veneer?
 
I'm unsure how to respond to this thread. Probably because I don't like the pigeonholing that comes from set social imagery, and I don't feel any need to try to look like anyone other than me. Conformity has never been a strong point of mine, but not something I passionately rebel against either. It just doesn't interest me.

I have a collar length bob, sometimes tied back, a 2" long goatee and handlebar tache, but my clothing tends to be quite... bland, I suppose. However, whether I'm wearing hiking gear or an evening suit, I think I still just look like me.

If I had to define my image, it's "don't try to pigeonhole me, if you want to know - ask". Although when people ask, they still struggle to pigeonhole me :D
 

Doc4

Moderator Emeritus
I'm unsure how to respond to this thread. Probably because I don't like the pigeonholing that comes from set social imagery, and I don't feel any need to try to look like anyone other than me.
I suspect this video may be of interest ... or at least of use ... for you. Particularly the last three minutes.


All the best.
 
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