THE BLOG
12/04/2013 10:39 am ET | Updated Feb 03, 2014

Why Men Should Give a Damn About Appearance

You can talk all you want about fashion, but most men still won't give a damn.

That's partly because there's a lot of silly, useless information out there that confuses, and as a society we've tried to push the mantra -- it matters how you perform, not how you look.

And yes, in a perfect world that would be great; but we don't live in a perfect world.

How you are perceived by others before you open your mouth depends mostly on the physical signals you send with your appearance.

Appearances matter in real and fundamental ways that affect a man's daily life -- from how he is greeted when meeting others for the first time to whether or not he'll be harassed while traveling.

A man doesn't need to stay on top of every passing trend; however he should thinking about his basic appearance every day. Still not convinced it's worth your time to dress sharp? Here are nine reasons why you should give a damn.

1. Clothing is the primary instrument in creating a positive first impressions

People are superficial, not just as a cultural phenomenon but as a hardwired instinct going all the way back to when our brains needed to make snap judgments on what was a stripy rock and what was a tiger about to eat us. We tend to be done formulating our initial opinion of someone before we've actually spoken to them. That means that your clothing is going to have a direct effect on people's default assumptions of you -- the better you're dressed, the more respect and attention they're going to automatically give you.

2. Clothing can increases your perceived status among your peers

Even after the first impression is over your clothing can help improve people's reactions to you. Society is very visually-based, and better-dressed men routinely experience better treatment and service than their sloppier counterparts. Clothing serves as a substitute for character in the eyes of people who don't know you well enough to judge you by anything else. That may sound superficial, but it's true whether we think it should be or not. Your appearance may not mean much to you, but it does to the people who see you every day, making it worth caring about.

3. Dressing sharp helps with your confidence

One of the first pieces of advice in self-help books is almost always something along the lines of "Get Your Personal Appearance Under Control!" It's good advice. People tend to perform better in life when they feel that they deserve to perform better. The automatic assumption that a well-dressed man should be treated with respect works when it's your reflection in the mirror, too. A few minutes spent spiffing yourself in the mirror before you leave home reinforces the idea that you deserve success and good treatment in your own mind.

4. The requirements of dressing sharp teaches responsibility

As silly as it sounds, caring for your appearance will make you a more responsible man. You wind up keeping track of details like which shoes need to be shined and which shirts need to be ironed, and (unless you live with someone who loves you very much) you usually have to do those things yourself. It reinforces mental habits of attention to detail and planning ahead that translate usefully into any career or skill.

5. A good dresser notices detail in others

Once you start paying attention to details of collar shape, pocket square selection, and all the other little details of dressing well, you start to notice them on other men. And those men are noticing them on you too -- expect, once you start really putting some time and effort into your appearance, to start seeing approving nods from other well-dressed men. A really well put-together outfit is as good as a Masonic handshake for introducing you into a secret and elite society of men (and you don't even have to wear one of those little fez hats).

6. Dressing sharp makes you more useful at work

Doesn't matter what your job happens to be and who you're working for, or even if you're your own boss -- if you're well enough dressed that you can step away from work and into a meeting with a client, customer, or supervisor without advance preparation, you're more useful. Having the casual, day-to-day presentation to step into any situation and look respectable is a huge advantage in the working world.

7. Colors and patterns speak for you

Once you start to learn more about them, specific colors and patterns begin to display their own unique advantages. Blues convey youth, browns openness and trustworthiness; deep grays somberness and dignity -- each can be the best choice for a situation where many other colors would be equally appropriate but not as ideal. And by thinking about colors and patterns in a meaningful way rather than just throwing together anything that doesn't clash too badly you may save yourself from being the guy whose tie keeps seeming to ripple on TV someday...

8. Specific clothing pieces make statements about you

Uniforms and semi-uniform looks like the doctor's white coat are obvious symbols of the wearer's status or role. More subtle effects can convey nearly as much detailed information for a man who takes his time to plan the outfit well. From a bolo tie advertising a reckless, cowboy attitude to a pinstriped suit in the colors of a favorite baseball team, clothes can proclaim everything from your profession to your passions -- or both at once.

9. Good looking men call the shots

When all's said and done, the best reason to take time with your clothing and appearance is to take charge of your life. Well-dressed men have already taken the way the world sees them into their own hands, and the added respectability and authority people afford them allows them to call the shots in group situations as well. Giving a damn about your appearance is a way of caring how much control you have over your own life -- not just over what color of tie to wear this morning.

For more fashion tips, visit www.realmenrealstyle.com.