When I was home for the holidays, I had a conversation with my barber that completely changed the way I look at life.
The man cutting my hair also happened to own the place, so naturally, I asked him about the business and how people find out about his shop.
He said that although he doesn’t do much advertising (he’s tried various local publications in the past, with little to no benefit), word of mouth from his customers has always served him well.
“If I give you a great cut, and you love it, and people ask you where you get your hair cut, you’ll gladly tell them about my shop. My best form of advertisement is you.”
I’m his walking, talking, living, breathing billboard. Brilliant!
(It also helps that he gives a great haircut. Naturally, I’d tell my friends about his shop, and I’ll go back whenever I’m in town.)
Your Best Form Of Advertisement Is You… So Dress Well
How does this apply to you, dear EG reader?
Consider this for a moment. Even if you don’t own a barbershop, and even if you’re not selling haircuts, every waking moment, you’re selling something.
My barber is selling his haircutting services.
You are selling yourself!
To your partner, your loved ones, your friends and colleagues, your boss, your company, your customers, your clients… you’re always selling yourself.
People are receiving you, even when you’re not actively giving yourself to them.
If you dress well and put a bit of thought and effort into your appearance, it shows you pay attention to detail. It shows you care about presentation.
People assume that level of attention and care extends into other parts of your life, naturally, even if it doesn’t.
You’re instantly more attractive, approachable, and open. You’re a walking, talking, living billboard for the persona you want others to see.
What They See Is What They Get
We often judge books by their covers, don’t we? The old adage tells us not to do that, but we do it anyway. We can’t help it, we’re human.
People are complex and individualistic, but we put them in boxes, because it’s easier for our limited minds to understand them.
The boxes can be constructed from:
- physical characteristics (“mustache guy”, “redhead”, “super tall dude”)
- personality types or interests (“guy who’s really into sports”, “craft beer aficionado”, “couch potato”)
- or even first impressions (“he seems like a D-bag”)
Sometimes we combine boxes to create assumptions of these avatars we completely make up, which is even more crazy.
“Oh man, that mustachioed guy drinking a craft beer over there must be a D-bag, because one time, I met a D-bag with a mustache who kept going on and on about craft beers, so therefore, they must all be D-bags.”
Sounds crazy when you say it out loud, but we do make these assumptions from time to time.
You Can Control Your Own Narrative By How You Dress
While you can’t control everything about how people receive you, you can control their initial impressions by how you dress. Being an awesome, interesting, charismatic person also helps. But if you’re dressed sloppily, you’ve already got one thing working against you.
People judge books by their covers. Why not have a great cover so people will be open to getting to know the real you?
You know, instead of them wincing slightly as you approach because you look like a sloppy man child wearing baggy sweats and a stretched out T-shirt… a guy who doesn’t know or care to present himself better in public.
In addition to refining your appearance so that others will be more open and receptive to you, realize that dressing well also improves your own outlook.
Yes, you can improve how you feel and think about yourself simply by dressing the part.
Act AS If
It goes without saying, you have to work on yourself, on the inside, before any true transformative change occurs.
But! have you heard the phrase, “Act as if”?
Act as if you’re already the confident, sexy, in-charge man you want to be (by acting the part, dressing the part, surrounding yourself with the right people), and the rest will follow.
Three quick ways to be your own best advertisement
Own your outfit
Learn to be comfortable in what you wear and the outfits you choose. Step it up a notch. Throw on a tie when no one else is. Tuck in your
ACT AS IF!
I don’t know what comes first, inner game or outward confidence. I know for me, when I’m feeling and looking good, I exude confidence. For others, they manifest their confidence outwardly first (acting as if), which boosts their inner confidence.
Whatever works for you, know that inner game and outward confidence go hand in hand, and people can subconsciously feel when that is lacking.
Confidently take steps in the direction you’re headed. Smile. Act as if you know what you’re doing, even if you’re somewhat unsure. Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out along the way.
All of these things work together, so practice everything simultaneously. And if you’re not getting the reaction or reception you expect, take a step back and see if you’re knocking out all of the above.
Imagine you as that billboard people see. How do you want them to react? Dress and act accordingly.
Kickstart the change to a sexier, more confident, more in-charge YOU
Okay, you understand appearance matters, and you’d like to refine what you’re advertising. Now what?
It’s not about looking at what’s on the runway, or checking out what the #menswear influencers on Instagram are wearing.
That’s all great, and may be inspirational to a certain point, but you’re not there yet.
You need to build a base, a small but interchangeable wardrobe that will serve you well now. Right now. So here’s what you do:
- Familiarize yourself with the Lean Wardrobe
- Then, start with our list of wardrobe essentials
- If you’re an older guy, read this: How Men Should Dress In Their 40s (And Beyond)
- If you’re in high school, college, or newly graduated, this may help: College Wardrobe Essentials For Young Guys On a Budget
- And if you have your basics covered, but are looking for ways to make the essential wardrobe more exciting, check out Effortless Outfits
Will people buy what you’re selling?
Maybe you’re not a barber, or a business owner.
Maybe you’re not a public speaker or are rarely in the spotlight.
Maybe you’re a regular 9-5er with a family to support, or a guy who is just starting his career, on his way up in life.
Guess what? You still have to advertise yourself in the best light possible, to everyone you know and meet.
Dressing well is only one part of the equation, but arguably the most important, because the way you carry and present yourself is the first thing people see, when they see you.
Think about that. And if you’re not completely happy with the presentation, make this year the year you change it for the better.
Photo by Kamile Leonaviciute