How A Man’s Clothes Affects Others — Male Style Advice

Men’s Clothing And Influence. How A Man’s Clothes Affects Others. Male Style Advice. Today, I’m going to be talking about clothing and influence.

Okay, this is the question that came in:  «I’m a youth minister and I’ve noticed that when I wear certain clothing, the young people are more receptive and they pay more attention to me. Can you give me some advice on what to wear to keep the young people’s attention, but also keep the formal look in church so to speak? Thank you in advance.»

All right, so I decided I’m going to make this one a little bit more general and broad because I think the bigger question here is clothing and the influence it has. I saw this firsthand in the Marine Corps because any guy out there that’s been a young officer, he realizes that when you take off your uniform and you take off your bars as a young lieutenant, you’re 22 years old and you often find yourself on base with predominantly, especially in the Marine Corps, over 90% are enlisted. And when you don’t have those signifiers, when there isn’t that clothing to separate you from the pack, you’ll find it’s a very interesting world because a lot of people will group you in the group of the enlisted.

I have all the respect in the world for the enlisted men, but young, enlisted men, they know they can fall prey to, let’s just say, a hard-charging gunnery sergeant or first sergeant who sees you any place or anywhere that he deems is off limits, and I could think of so many stories in which would be. Let’s say, checking out a building or walking perhaps in an area that was off limits to most. I would have some hard charger come up and say, «Hey, what are you doing over there?» They would normally not speak to an officer that way, but it was one of those things that I wasn’t breaking any rule. I was apparently breaking his rule or maybe where he told parts of his unit not to: — I wasn’t in a fire zone or anything, but let’s just say in any case, it was always kind of humorous. I thought in my head to just introduce myself and say, «I didn’t realize that this was perhaps a sidewalk,» which was his sidewalk.

The stories usually are pretty funny and I can’t remember an exact one, but anybody in the military knows about these little idiosyncrasies that happen, but it was all because there wasn’t that clothing there that had the influence, which clearly put us in different tracks in terms of what our position was in the military. As a youth minister or whether you’re in any position in which you’re working with people and there’s kind of like a hierarchy in the system, whether you’re a professor, you’re a teacher, you’re a sponsor or a chaperon at an event, I think it’s important when you’re in a position of authority that you dress for that position of authority. And I don’t know specifically what your dress code is going to be. I mean, there is a huge difference.

If you go to a synagogue in New York City or if you’re going to a small church in rural Wisconsin, there’s a bit difference in how people are going to dress, but across the board, you need to make sure you’re clean. You need to make sure your clothing fits you, and you need to make sure it’s appropriate for the environment. So as long as you keep those good, you’re going to be good to go, but I’m going to get a little bit more general or specific, depending on how you look at it, but I really want to address the fact that you are a leader, whether you’re a chaperon or whether you are a youth minister, whether you are the head or you’re in front of a classroom of 500 people. You’re at this point a positional leader and I think it’s important that people are able to easily distinguish that you are a leader.

Usually, it’s simply throwing on a jacket. That is a universal sign that this is somebody that either is forced to wear one or is in charge. I like to think that we’re a little bit in charge when we’re wearing something that is regal, has a military background, and makes men look better. If it fits properly, it’ll make you look better. The other one is I understand this youth minister’s issue. He’s wanting to, I think, be able to have people relate with him better and perhaps be more open, but it’s kind of like the father-son relationship in that you do want to be — you want to have a very open relationship with your son, but you don’t want to be; you’re not his buddy. You are his father and he only has one in the entire world. And for these people that are going to your church, these young men and young women, you are the youth minister and you’re perhaps probably their only youth minister at this point.

So I think you need to identify what it is that again, I’m not saying it’s a suit and tie and I’m not saying it’s shorts and a t-shirt, but it’s probably somewhere between there. And you need to find where that falls and go ahead and fill that role because they’re expecting it. The other one is it also matters how this appears on the outside and the reason being is for whenever somebody new joins the group or somebody who’s observing or wanting to learn, they’re going to look out there and they’re going to say: can they identify the person in charge? If you walk up to a group of men and five of them are just wearing dress shirts and slacks and one of them is in a suit, who are you going to assume is in charge, assuming they’re all the same age, same size, there’s nothing else that distinguishes them? You’re going to assume the guy in the suit. There’s a reason people say, «Oh, the suits are here» or «the guys in charge are here.» It’s just something that sets itself apart.

Again, I’m not saying you have to go down the suit path, but find the equivalent in your area. The last thing I’m going to say is experiment. Look and find what works. Perhaps there is some type of color that just looks great on you or that makes them open up. Find it, make it work. If it’s a certain type of novelty tie, which allows you to take something that’s a bit dressier, but bring it down. In this case, who am I to say you can’t wear a novelty tie if it helps somebody in that group open up and for you to have a deeper connection? All right.