We all wear costumes. Some are easy to spot. Drag queens come to mind. So do cowboys. But, costumes show up in all areas of society. If I say soccer mom, a costume comes immediately to mind. How about mechanic? Preacher? Doctor? Businessman? What we wear defines us in many ways.

It’s easy for us to use those costumes to give us permission to make judgments about the people we see. The guy in grease-smeared jeans and ragged t-shirt is clearly not the social equal of the man in a suit and tie. Right?

It’s also easy to hide behind our own costumes. Do you have a lucky shirt? How about your cute jeans? We dress in the way that we think will give us what we want—more attention, less attention, a certain reaction.

Costumes vary, too, from generation to generation. To my mom’s generation jeans are very casual, appropriate only among your closest friends or family. To my generation jeans are appropriate for all but the most formal of occasions. For my son’s generation even formal occasions can be an appropriate place for jeans.

I’m not sure that we really understand what our clothes are saying to others. Every day when we get dressed we’re making a statement. Our costume may be sending the wrong signal. Think carefully about what your own costume says. Is it telling others what you want them to hear?


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