It’s not always easy being fashion-forward in a college town like Madison. The diversity of styles present on a given day is almost mind-boggling…with sweatpants and hoodies on one side of town, hand-made suits (know anywhere you can get one of those?) on the other, and a steady exchange of residents with the Midwest’s two largest cities: Chicago and Minneapolis, one may experience a great deal of uncertainty about what exactly the dress code is.
When deciding on a wardrobe it always helps to bear in mind what mother used to say about adding spice to food; “Adding more is easy, it’s taking it off that’s the hard part.” In terms of fashion the opposite is true: if over-dressed you can always remove an item or two, but if under-dressed you’re out of luck (unless you came prepared with a bribe for the coat-check). So what does this mean for Spring?
Button-downs are fast becoming the norm as more and more people opt out of the t-shirt-as-walking-billboard look, and this opens up the possibility of accessories; ties, bowties, cuffs, blazers, vests, and watches that don’t just tell time but look good. The myth that these items are for “special” occasions is just that – a myth. Each piece which a man introduces into his wardrobe is an expression of his individuality and, indeed, his masculinity.
As a society we use outward appearance as a sort of social yard-stick. The clothes a person wears are a direct reflection of their self-image. So what are you projecting? Confidence? Originality? Practicality? If you answered “yes” then take a moment to observe what you’re wearing now and ask yourself if it fits with your desired image.
In this way the old adage “dress for the job you want” is an excellent principle to live by. You will never find yourself embarrassed to be the best-dressed person in a room, and people really do treat others differently if they have the appearance of success. What does this mean? A pressed shirt, a pair of cufflinks peeking out from beneath a jacket sleeve, and an easy smile can mean the difference between getting that table for two by the window or the one directly adjacent to the men’s room.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MADISON?
Back in the day going out (leaving the family farm or the house in the suburbs for a day in the city) used to be an occasion. That meant dressing up in one’s “Sunday best” when one went to interact with others in public. Why? Because everyone felt that they had a duty to present themselves properly to their neighbors and community, to put their best foot forward and project an image of courtesy and respect. Successful people have always understood this. Some of the rest of us may need a reminder, however, and this is it!
In order to get the best out of any situation you must first look and feel your best. We may be far removed from formalwear-only sit-down restaurants, but after many long years in exile we are again remembering that when you respect yourself and your wardrobe reflects this fact you will invite more respect from others.