Tuesday 23 October 2018

Mary Kenny: Grin and wear it

What do your clothing choices really say about you?

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

A young man came to see me recently for what I thought was a business meeting. When I saw that he was wearing track suit trousers and a T-shirt, I knew the deal was off. If he was serious about the project he'd have been less casual in his semiotics (the study of signs and signals and their interpretation).

Yes, we judge by appearances - and by the clothes that people wear. And we're correct in making such judgments, because dress codes send signals about our values, our intentions and, if you like, our degree of respect for others or for institutions.

I say this in all awareness that I have, personally, almost perfected the "batty old dame" look, and I won't deny that it's deliberate. I long ago decided that if you can't look beautiful and elegant, you might as well look interesting and eccentric. But of course, for special occasions, I make an effort to scrub up. For a funeral or a wedding, I'm not about to do the old hippy act. You consider the signal you're sending when you're getting dressed for the day.

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