Dressed to Not Impress

Column Teaser
Photo courtesy of Amanda Tonoli/ The Jambar

It is a big deal when I decide to don my jeans or wear shoes — other than flip-flops, if those even count — when it is still warm outside. Even in your average arctic tundra, yoga pants are my go-to when I’m getting ready for school.

I wouldn’t say I’m lazy — even though I do enjoy lying in bed, binge watching TV specials, like Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, and eating chips. I would say that I have a love for being comfortable — yes I know, it is such a unique trait. There is no doubt, though, that I function better that way.

I can just hear my sister’s heavy sigh and disappointed tone when she says, “Amanda,” in response to me telling her my outfit on the second day of school was sweatpants and a T-shirt.

So if I can’t start out of the gate like that, how long then do I have to wait to embrace apathy’s warm and waiting hand and give in to the sultry call of sweatpants?

Beth DeSantis, a third year student at Youngstown State University, has used the “halfway-through-the-semester-rule” — she dresses nice for an entire half of a semester until she breaks out the sweats.

“Well, it feels like a new start. When I dress nice I feel good — positive thinking,” DeSantis said.

That positive attitude was with her when she first started at YSU, well dressed for the duration of her first fall semester. She approached the second semester with a changed attitude and began to dress comfortably before developing her current half-semester rule.

Brianna Wall, a second year student at YSU, is taking a professional approach when she is dressing for school this semester.

“I’m trying to make an effort to dress better for class,” Wall said. “I’m trying to make the best first impression that I possibly can. Being that I now have classes in the [Beeghly] College of Education, I’m trying to make the effort to dress more professionally.”

Wall jokes that jeans and a nice shirt are her dressing up, but she has already slipped up and whipped out the leggings and T-shirts too. She still hopes not to fall back into the habit.

“I want my professors to see that I want to be there,” Wall said. “If someone asks the professor to recommend people for a tutoring job etc., I want them to pick me over someone else.”

Marah Slapsak, a fourth year student at YSU, said had a more devil-may-care attitude when it came to her garb; she dressed in shorts and a T-shirt the first day.

Her reasoning?

“It’s my last year, I’m in a long-term relationship, I just really don’t care about my appearance on campus anymore,” Slapsak said. “I’m here to learn and obtain my degree, not dress to impress — unless I’m giving a speech.”

So, this whole dress-nice business is really a matter of professionalism. It’s like putting on a smile before you leave the house or carrying three extra resumes before an interview — trying to obtain success by preparing for it.

But does it matter? Do people really care?

In “The Psychology of Dressing Well (And Why You Must To Get Anywhere In Life)” published in March on riskology.co, Tyler Tervooren discusses the deep-seated psychological need from society to be well dressed.

He tells a story about going to a friend’s house by bus, being unsure of which stop to get off on. Two men — one dressed to impress and another who was a bit more haphazard with his uniform — each told him a different stop to get off at. I’m assuming you can guess which person he listened to.

Why? What was the significance?

“It was simply years of social conditioning taking over. My decision process went into autopilot,” Tervooren said. “If you want people to listen to you, there’s an important lesson here: Dress the message.”

Just like Wall said, she wanted to be the one that a professor would refer.

“Whatever message you’re trying to send to the world, never forget the clothes you put that message in will determine the way it’s received,” Tervooren said.

Of course the final question to determine is does anyone actually care? Well, for one, I will probably continue dressing in my regular attire — sweatpants, a T-shirt and my hair in a bun — until I can buy the pantsuit equivalent of sweatpants.