Clothes & navigating social stuff

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elfsprin
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Clothes & navigating social stuff

Post by elfsprin » Wed Nov 17, 2021 8:05 pm

Do you use clothes to help you navigate social interaction?

I used to always wear solid colors, mostly blacks and grays. In recent years I've started wearing clothes that have illustration/words, as I've found it helps with social situations.

For example, people tend to be intimidated by me as a first impression and that makes it hard to have folks be willing to engage for long enough to determine whether I'm someone they are interested in for conversation/friendship/etc.

I don't know where the intimidation factor is coming from, so I haven't been able to 'fix' it yet. But, I've found some items of clothing I can wear that make folks more open to engaging. A go-to is this hoodie: https://www.lookhuman.com/design/371789 ... 6oQAvD_BwE.

When I'm wearing it, people tend to approach me to say they like it, and engage in conversation. Perk 1: attracting people I'm more likely to also enjoy, aka nerds and other awkward people.

Perk 2: Instead of feeling intimidated and/or thinking I am stand-offish or aloof, folks start out giving me the benefit of the doubt and they're willing to attribute a great deal of non-standard behavior to awkwardness. The hoodie is both self-deprecating and self-celebratory, so that helps folks feel more disposed to forgive minor social blunders.

Does anyone else do this/what do you think about clothing as a tactic for the social realm?
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity - Simone Weil

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MoneyJungle
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Re: Clothes & navigating social stuff

Post by MoneyJungle » Thu Nov 18, 2021 1:49 am

My primary problem is that I like to have fun with my wardrobe but I don’t want to feel like an oldster glomming on to youth culture (although this youth culture seems to be glomming on to what was my youth culture…looking at you Nirvana shirts) or some kinda mid-life crisis e.g. this guy from Tiger King:

Image

My face is straight up weathered no matter how young at heart (immature) I remain. I don’t wear a lot of tees w/ words but I do enjoy a good novelty print. I don’t know if this disarms people. I don’t talk to anybody and nobody talks to me. Still styling tho. I think I’d be more approachable if I dressed more casually. Maybe I like being unapproachable.

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elfsprin
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Re: Clothes & navigating social stuff

Post by elfsprin » Thu Nov 18, 2021 5:51 am

Personally I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be unapproachable. It sucks when that’s your default mode and you’d prefer to break out of it, at times.

I’ve been unapproachable since grade school so.

Funny adjacent story. I did ballet as a kid to help correct my flat feet. This did make me walk with a better posture, and on top of that I naturally have a very sniper-y walk.

In high school, I was cut from choir because, as the music teacher told my mom, ‘she walks like she thinks she’s better than everyone else.’ Nothing could have been further from my mind, but that alerted me that maybe I needed to start figuring out how others perceived me in order to avoid punishment/negative consequences.

In college someone commented out of the blue that I didn’t walk, ‘you glide, like badass hit-women in movies. I could totally see you taking someone out without breaking stride.’

I tried changing my walk on purpose and I’d say it was a mediocre success/fail.

I’m sure that somewhere in there, there’s influence from being fairly dominant (though I didn’t figure that out for a long while) and from being painfully self-sufficient (from going through abusive foster care), which can come across as ‘confidence.’
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity - Simone Weil

starla
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Re: Clothes & navigating social stuff

Post by starla » Thu Nov 18, 2021 6:10 am

I think clothing as a social signal is completely normal and most people do it without even thinking about it. I can think of no reason besides signaling to wear a graphic tee, or a band shirt, or sports team paraphernalia. I mean, I get that you might like whatever it is on your shirt, but why would you want to wear their logo? It's so you can show other people how much you like it. People buy expensive designer clothes, especially the kind with gaudy, massive logos, so they can send the signal that they're rich, though I always assume those people are posers. If you're rich enough you don't have to send signals with your clothes to get people to pay attention to you.

For several years, it kept coming up on my annual work review that I was intimidating. This was with two different managers. I have no idea why anyone would have found me intimidating, much less what I should do about it. My coworkers found this hilarious and suggested that I get a bunch of hello kitty t-shirts to wear to work.

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elfsprin
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Re: Clothes & navigating social stuff

Post by elfsprin » Thu Nov 18, 2021 6:48 am

It coming up at work is the worst.

I’m in IT, or was (reduction in force due to covid has meant I’m taking a nice break). My boss’s boss said I was too smart and it intimidated people. If I had a dick or presented as masculine I would have been promoted (more) and lauded, but I’ve got big boobs so despite presenting as fairly non-binary, it’s a ‘problem.’

Did you get any sense that your bosses calling you intimidating had anything to do with being punished for being smart, or confident/capable?
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity - Simone Weil

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Madrigal
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Re: Clothes & navigating social stuff

Post by Madrigal » Fri Nov 19, 2021 12:24 am

elfsprin wrote:
Thu Nov 18, 2021 5:51 am
Funny adjacent story. I did ballet as a kid to help correct my flat feet. This did make me walk with a better posture, and on top of that I naturally have a very sniper-y walk.

In high school, I was cut from choir because, as the music teacher told my mom, ‘she walks like she thinks she’s better than everyone else.’ Nothing could have been further from my mind, but that alerted me that maybe I needed to start figuring out how others perceived me in order to avoid punishment/negative consequences.

In college someone commented out of the blue that I didn’t walk, ‘you glide, like badass hit-women in movies. I could totally see you taking someone out without breaking stride.’
I'm imagining something like the Vladimir Putin gunslinger's gait?

No, never been considered intimidating at all. But I guess I have chosen clothes or colors on the basis of how I wanted an evening to turn out. I suppose that's pretty standard though.

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elfsprin
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Re: Clothes & navigating social stuff

Post by elfsprin » Fri Nov 19, 2021 1:07 am

I think it's more like the walk in this video at the 3 min mark. Not exactly but a lot closer than Putin's weird clunky walk lol



MoneyJungle you mentioned being very well dressed. What do you normally wear?
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity - Simone Weil

starla
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Re: Clothes & navigating social stuff

Post by starla » Fri Nov 19, 2021 5:46 am

elfsprin wrote:
Thu Nov 18, 2021 6:48 am
Did you get any sense that your bosses calling you intimidating had anything to do with being punished for being smart, or confident/capable?
No, it was because other people told them they were intimidated by me. One boss thought it was funny and didn't really hold it against me or expect me to do anything about it, and the other framed it as a problem, though really I think he just wanted a reason why he wasn't giving me a better raise or a promotion. It was that kind of place.

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SomeInternetBloke
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Re: Clothes & navigating social stuff

Post by SomeInternetBloke » Fri Nov 19, 2021 6:22 am

MoneyJungle wrote:
Thu Nov 18, 2021 1:49 am
My primary problem is that I [resemble Kurt Vonnegut in this photo]
https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/cl ... ?s=612x612
Last edited by SomeInternetBloke on Mon Nov 29, 2021 8:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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djm
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Re: Clothes & navigating social stuff

Post by djm » Sat Nov 20, 2021 2:00 am

I have been dressing mostly the same way since I was 4 years old, and am now close to 50.

I have a few autistic hangups that I can't / don't wish to get past. I wont wear a shirt with no collar. I will not wear unnatural fibres. I will not wear garments lacking sleeves. Examples only also have many more rules I follow.

For the most part I have dressed the same way since the late 70s, and will continue to do so until death I recently stopped wearing corduroy blazers and switched to tweed (As intervention a decade back). Other than that I dress the same as ever. Smart Jacket, Jeans, Kickers plaid shirt, Barbour jacket etc.

people do find me intimidating, but I don't suffer fools gladly and have spent a lifetime surrounded by them. I have been compared with Gates, Hawking, Einstein, but have never felt intimidated by it. I have spent my life surrounded by idiots. To be fair elfsprin is one of the few people I consider smart (Ferrus is another). Intimidating is a good look - stick with it!

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