This man is a sex symbol.

This man is a sex symbol.


Fashion is the greatest changeable element that you can manipulate of your visual impression.  Your visual impression is going to determine a large part of your everyday life.  If your visual impression is pleasing there is a laundry list of advantages.


There is a robust hiring bias in the favor of attractive people.

There is a salary advantage to being attractive.

Your work performance will be more highly praised if you are attractive.

You are less likely to be found guilty of a crime if you are attractive.

If convicted you will get a lighter sentence if you are attractive.

Criminals are more likely to be convicted if the victim is attractive.

People are more likely to offer you aid if you are attractive.

When aid is offered, more aid is provided to attractive people.

Attractive students receive more attention and praise.

Attractive children are shown more affection.

And all of that is before we get into the mating advantages of being attractive.


But while we’re here, I’d like to make a side note on being attractive and mating.  If you put a lot of effort into fixing computers really well and very little effort into looking good naked, do not be surprised when everyone wants you to fix their computer and no one wants to see you naked.  You’re only good for one of those things.


But dressing well has nothing to do with how good you look naked!  Checkmate, Autumn!


You ever hear of the halo effect?  The man who is better dressed is more attractive.  Apparently, the man who is better dressed is the better man for the job and for the mating.  I get the feeling you care a great deal about one or both of those things.  An ungodly amount of time and money has been spent to make sure you care about one or both of those things to maintain social order.  And since you’re not going to overthrow society anytime soon, might I suggest buying a suit while you wait.


How you look, may have more of an affect on whom you marry, where you work, and how much money you make than your level of education.   Still think meatheads and fashonistas are stupid?


Money, Power, and Sex.  Those are the things that are most affected by your visual impression.  Your visual impression is not just how you dress.  It’s also how fit your body is, your height, how clear your skin is, how well maintained your hair is, how you carry yourself, and how graceful you are.


The two most important factors are fitness and fashion.  Fitness is the foundation of creating a pleasing visual impression.  Fashion is the polish.  This argument could be used for why you need to care about fitness, too.  Except fitness makes you physically more capable and has cognitive benefits.  Fashion makes you look more financially powerful and has social benefits.


Now if you have terrible posture or you have acne or one of the other factors in this equation, you will not be the most attractive you can be but as a fit and fashionable person you will still benefit from the image you have cultivated.


I like to illustrate points with stories because narrative inspires application of philosophy.  I have a story for you.


When I was thirteen I was arrested for shoplifting.  I was cuffed, transported in the back of a police car, printed, and kept in a holding cell until I was bailed out.  It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life.  The justice system was very effective because I had sticky fingers as a child but I never stole again after that experience because I was so utterly embarrassed by it.


When I see people shoplifting I feel an unbearable amount of Myötähäpeä, or vicarious embarrassment.  I cringe and have to cover my face.  It is really difficult for me to even be around someone when they are stealing something.


So there was this very attractive man I spent a lot of time with who stole constantly.  He shoplifted all the time.  As I’m sure you can imagine, I was not a very good companion in “being cool.”  I would fidget and whisper things like, “what are you doing?”  “You can’t do that.”


One day, I’ll never forget, I anxiously whispered, “You’re going to get caught.”  His demeanor immediately relaxed.  He squared off his shoulders, looked me right in the face and said, “No, I’m not.  These people are not going to stop me.  I’m a white man and I’ve got this on.”  He said “I’ve got this on,” as he pulled at the lapel of his suit.


It was one of those lines that people rarely get to deliver in real life.  Perhaps a year later, Mad Men tried to recreate his perfect one liner and it wasn’t nearly as powerful to me.


 (At the 2:09 mark for the impatient.)

He was the very definition of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  How you dress is going to determine how you are treated.  Would you like to be looked over?  Would you like to be treated with respect and extra kindness?  Would you like to be the object of attention?  How about lust?  You choose.  You can manipulate your visual impression and it has real world consequences.  That’s why fashion matters to you because how others treat you matters to you.