Do you know what the great thing about first impressions is? You only have to deal with them once. Which, you know, is really nice – because first impressions suck.
Occasionally you meet someone with a monumentally horrible memory like me, who bonded over fashion three separate occasions with my best friend from high school before finally remembering who she was – and introduced myself four separate times to my ex-roommate and best friend from college (bonding over Kpop, Japan, fashion, and the Japanese language). I am awful at names, faces, and stories. But, to be fair, most people (thankfully) aren’t me.
So, you only get the chance of a first impression once, so it is important to not stick the landing.
I remember my first week of college at Ursinus College. I sat in the basement of the science building for a unfortunately early 8am Calculus 3 class, staring in amazement at my classmates. Guys were wearing button down shirts, nice jeans, and clean shoes. There were a couple hipster glasses and ball caps scattered around. Girls had precise eyeliner, hair without strand misplaced, and trendy clothes.
I sat wide-eyed in amazement. I was playing in the big leagues now. People dressed to impress. I felt terrific, finally among a group of people who followed trends, loved to express themselves through fashion, and were concerned with future plans. These people were cool.
But then the first week ended.
I watched in dismay as the shells gradually peeled off. High heels were replaced with ugg boots; fitted jeans were replaced with sweatpants. It was then I learned the truth: people only dress nicely for the first week of class. They want to make a good first impression.
By the second week, there were a couple stragglers who still spent time picking out outfits in the morning, but for the most part, everyone had donned their “college wear” of sports shirts, sweatpants, and workout gear. By the time we actually started learning each other’s names, I had long since forgotten what their “first impression” outfit was.
When everyone is dressing to impress and make a good first impression, it is easy to get lost in the crowd.
Which is why I adopted the “dress nicely on the THIRD week of class” rule. Don’t get me wrong, I still dress well enough on the first two weeks. However, instead of high heels, I wear converse. Instead of maxi-dresses, I wear summer dresses. Instead of chic fashion, I wear lighter – trendier pieces. Basically, I dress safe.
If you love fashion, why should you “dress safe” for the first two weeks of class? Isn’t that counter-productive? No, because I do this for the exact same reason most people “dress up” for the first two weeks of class. It is all about the first impression.
People judge other people. It is what we do. Maybe you’re one of those magical people who doesn’t judge a guy for drowning in cologne or a girl for wearing leggings as pants… but the rest of us judge. It is awful. But no one seems able to stop.
So instead, you have to roll with the judgment. I get judged for my heels, my affinity for suit coats, and my collection of wild maxi-dresses. So what should I do? Instead of dressing UP during the first two weeks of class, I dress DOWN.
Fashion is a series of hits and misses. Sometimes I love an outfit, but months later (when looking through pictures) I have to wonder what I was thinking. I look ridiculous. And with the snap judgments people always make, I would rather not be labeled “that girl who dresses weird.” (even though, let’s be honest, I totally do)
A couple weeks later, when people have already more or less formed an opinion of me, I start to gradually slip in my favorite pieces. A hi-lo skirt, a pair of clunky heels, or a Ghanaian dress.
And, you know, since most people stop putting an effort into appearances by the third week of class, it just makes the change seem more drastic. Fashion made cheap and easy – Grace style.
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