The Clothes Make The Man

Suppose for a moment that you are a high-level Microsoft technician.  You understand servers, networking, clients, backups, etc. and you have excellent customer relation skills.  You are well-spoken, well-educated, confident, and competent.

What difference does it make what type of clothes you are wearing?  Does your outfit somehow change your skill set, or your ability to do your job?

If someone does not like the way you are dressed, are they justified in assuming that you are somehow incompetent?

Is comfort or personal preference a factor at all?  If not, why the hell not?

Someone might argue that your clothes tell people certain things about you.  If this is true, then choosing to wear particular clothes in order to send a particular 'message' would be considered dishonest, wouldn't it?  On the other hand, someone who wears the clothes that they prefer or that they consider to be 'comfortable' is the one person being honest (and is the person who is most likely to be chastised for it).

How in the world does what I'm wearing affect anyone else besides me?  Yeah, you have to look at me, but it isn't as if I'm wearing a rotting corpse.  If I'm working on your computer wearing blue jeans rather than slacks, what possible impact can it have on anyone else?  If the answer is just that 'people expect certain things' then why should they expect those things, and does it make any sense to expect them?

Even if we were to accept that there are 'objective standards' for fashion, what the heck are they?  Who is the 'authority' for these standards?  If the individual person is the authority, then does anyone have the right to expect anyone else to conform to their particular standards?

This whole idea, that clothes determine the way in which you are judged by others, really hearkens back to the class systems of human history.  Throughout history, the rich have differentiated themselves from the poor primarily through extravagant or expensive clothing.  The real reason for this, as we understand it now, was to KEEP the class warfare at the forefront - if rich people looked the same as poor people, they might stop being seen as superior and start being seen as equals!

The thing is, though, that this is the age when we get to question the stuff that we've "always done".  We live in a time when homosexuals can be honest with themselves and others without fear of imprisonment or execution (Well, mostly anyway).  We live in a time when virtually any desired information is available to the general public (not just specific groups of people).  Most importantly, we live in a time when questioning the status quo is not only allowed, it's encouraged.

This may seem like a minor issue to some people.  I've been told things like 'Why can't you just accept it as the way things are?'

The answer, of course, is that it doesn't matter if that's the way things are.  As Matt Dillahunty likes to say, "I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible", and I feel the exact same way.  I see 'fashion' as a holdover idea from the Aristocracy which should not be used to judge the character or competence of ANYONE.


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