This is a phrase we sometimes use when someone asks something of us that may seem unreasonable.
“Will you drive me to Target to buy an expensive game five minutes before closing time?”
“What do I look like, a chauffeur?”
“Will you make lasagna for dinner tonight?”
“What do I look like, a chef?”
“Did you bring my charger along?”
“What do I look like, a mind reader?”
But really, what do I look like? I have so many roles that I play that sometimes I think I need a wardrobe manager to help me keep my costumes straight. Case in point: the other night I sat down to write but I just couldn’t get into it. I wasn’t sure why, but then it hit me. I wasn’t in the correct outfit. I was in the clothes I had worn to school. Teacher clothes. I looked like an elementary school teacher. I felt like an elementary school teacher. I didn’t feel very writerly. I changed into something far more comfortable and got down to business.
Wearing the right clothes for the occasion makes a world of difference. You would feel like an idiot working out in a sexy dress, but wear your gym clothes to a fancy party and you’re equally uncomfortable.
Of course we’ve all heard the old saying, “the clothes make the man,” but how does that work? I think it has very little to do with the clothes themselves and almost everything to do with mindset. When you can look at yourself and say, “I look pretty good,” you have accomplished something. Most of us are our own worst critics, and if we can get that critic on board, we’re well on our way to convincing the rest of the world.
Sure, there are certain items that you put on that no matter what make you look great. There are others that don’t do you any favors. Honestly, though, a morose or angry woman in a stunning designer dress and heels has nothing on a joyful or placid woman in a t-shirt dress and flip-flops. Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face is a perfect example. She rocks that awful sack of a dress in her first scene. Still, if you want to make an impression it does make sense to try to match your attire to your desire. Hey, I just made that up. I like it.
It reminds me of the old story of Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. According to the story, each morning she would dress in her best outfits, complete with hosiery, shoes, and accessories. Naturally she would do her make-up and hair too. Then, when she was dressed to the nines, she would begin her day’s work. At her kitchen table. In her house. On the phone. Nobody saw her, but the confidence she gained from putting on her “uniform” or her “game face” helped her to become a force to be reckoned with. Had she made her calls in curlers and sweatpants I doubt we would know her name or her brand today.
This is the reason that I’m in favor of school uniforms for kids. I truly believe that they get into school mode when that uniform goes on. I don’t care if the uniform is a simple t-shirt and shorts. The idea is that it’s something specific just for the job of going to school and learning. There is also a sense of community that is built through the wearing of a uniform. Go to any major sporting event if you don’t believe me. Fans happily sport their team’s attire in order to become part of a community of supporters.
Listen, I’m no fashionista, and ultimately everyone wears what they want to anyway, but for me being a writer entails donning comfy clothes with stretchy waistbands. It may not be haute couture, but what do I care? After all, what do I look like, a model?