IntroductionLet’s face it, we don’t care so much about our image, clothes, hair and grooming regime because it’s a necessary requirement for life. Everything about it is an extraneous, unnecessary and expensive extravagance that we allow ourselves to indulge in almost constantly (think of all the money you could save). No, we do it because we want to look good, we want people to notice us and we want to make a good impression.
Truth be told, it all comes down to vanity.
We’re All Mean Girls At HeartAll of us have a self-centred streak. For most people, the game of life is about getting one up on the next guy – leaving your house hoping you’ll be the best dressed person you see all day, keeping a watchful eye out for the look that tells you you’ve got it right (or, more devastatingly, wrong), feeling sure that the extra effort you put in will get you that job, that girl, that everything.
Not only this, we spend a good portion of our day judging other people. It really is no wonder the country is down the toilet, we’re all too busy getting angry at people whose trousers are half an inch too long, who haven’t polished their shoes, or insist on wearing jeans from the 1980s. We constantly compare ourselves to others; we see them as barometers of our own success and we hope to God that they are thinking the same as us: that we’ve done much better than they have.
We all sound like catastrophic arseholes.
But actually, when you think about it, nearly everything in the above is socially acceptable (well, apart from sometimes being over judgemental). Whilst broken down into its constituent parts our obsession with clothes and image can seem vulgar, arrogant, ignorant and a little bit disgusting, when you put it all together and then consider how society has developed, what is now expected and what is now almost a requirement of normal life, it all starts to make more sense.
The world is a superficial place – the existence of massive inequality is testament to that – but without getting into a huge social and anthropological debate, how you look matters. It matters a great deal. And being a bit vain or being obsessive about your image is something that almost everybody does, because no one wants to be labelled as ‘the ugly one’. The whole concept of getting dressed to leave the house is based on vanity and social consciousness.
We are all guilty of being self-centred image fiends, but it has simply become part of our wider social schema (as much as it might be shameful to admit) and an accepted part of modern life. I think it would be fair to say that nearly every person you know, with only a very few exceptions, will be, at some level, concerned with their image.
But who’s to say you, more than anyone else, look good?
Who’s To Say You Look Good?As fashion is such a subjective social topic, it is only inevitable that we will each have our individual ideas of what looks good. We develop a clear idea of style and dressing that suits our particular tastes and we don’t really gravitate from that. It could be said that FashionBeans has a certain house style, and while this is all well and good, just who has told you that it looks good? Who has told you that what you’re wearing is better than what someone else is wearing?
You can of course rely on the fact that you, personally, think that your look is the best there is. If you are confident with it, then bugger everybody else – they don’t really matter. But you can’t guarantee that plain old self-confidence will translate into blanket approval; not everyone likes the same things after all. Being happy in your own style can only take you so far, being able to say you look good often requires more assurance than what you on your own can provide.
Needing Or Wanting ApprovalSo if it isn’t enough for you to simply be confident that you look good, might it be the approval of your friends or the people you pass in the street? Everyone likes to be complimented (even if it makes you uncomfortable) and it gives us all a little boost when someone takes the time to praise part of your outfit. Peer approval is a very powerful thing, just look at the results of peer pressure.
Does your friends asking you for fashion advice suggest that you look good? Does the fact that you catch them taking a good hard look at what you’re wearing confirm your own suspicions? Does the attention of a particular someone dictate that you’ve succeeded in your goal? Friends are an important part of our lives and their opinion matters a great deal – we are often fiercely loyal to our friends, taking their word over the word of others – so does this decide whether we look good?
The Fashion Industry InfluenceOr, and it is a pretty substantial OR, does the fashion industry dictate who does or who doesn’t look good? Whilst we might cultivate our own particular style, it is the fashion industry that dictates what we wear each season, and what we can buy in their stores.
Twice a year, models are thrown down the catwalk showcasing ‘the next big thing’ and we all follow quite happily. Trends come and go, classic styles turn in circles and we continue to follow the way others dress for a large portion of our own inspiration. We rely on the shops to provide the tools for our success and it is they who dictate what works and what doesn’t.
The industry pushes certain trends like camo print each season, the high street campaigns/stock follows and they end up filtering down to the streets.This is a hugely complex issue, but it is one worth thinking about carefully. Understanding why, or from whom, your style receives approval allows us to see what we’re doing right AND what we’re doing wrong, it offers us a sense of modesty and stops us becoming judgemental *******. You don’t have to please all of the people all of the time, but you can at least please some of them, some of the time.
ConclusionsIn truth, the question of who’s to say you look good is a mixture of all of the above. The fashion industry, by and large, dictates what kind of items dominate the high street, they create the trends and reinforce the classic styles, they choose the colours, the cut/fit and everything in between, and we are left as the consumers.
But within this, we still have choice: we can choose to wear one thing over another, we can choose how WE want to look and it is up to us to be confident in our choices. Confidence in your clothes makes all the difference to the way you walk, the way you talk and they way you carry yourself – it is a crucial element of any man’s wardrobe. The approval of your friends is almost as useful, they give us honest feedback and they give us praise that we truly believe in and that truly matters to us.
Who’s to say you look good is a complicated question and I want to hear your views, so let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.