There are all sorts of proverbs out there about what's on the inside being what counts, that appearances shouldn't matter, that you should never judge a book by its cover, that what you look like isn't as important as who you are on the inside. All of these proverbs - while motivating and comforting - shouldn't be taken entirely literally.
Make no mistake; appearances matter.
I don't mean that they are of central importance; no, in that respect, I agree with those proverbs. What's on the inside is more important. That's why we have all these talks about character, about integrity, about honor; no, without a doubt, what's on the inside is more important.
However, that doesn't mean that appearances don't matter. Here are a few reasons why.
- First impressions stick. Whether we like it or not, not only do our first impressions of others generally stick, but certainly their first impression of us does. And unfortunately, much of that first impression will be based on appearance.
- Being underdressed puts you at a disadvantage. If not in your eyes, than certainly in theirs. Being underdressed demonstrates to others a lack of care at best, a lack of respect at worst.
- When you look your best, you feel that way too. When you take care to look presentable and professional, it sets you in the right frame of reference to feel presentable and professional, and it gives you the confidence to behave as such.
That last one is the real kicker. When you are confident in your appearance, you don't have to spend energy being worried about whether or not you look like you fit; you are confident that you appear like you do. And that gives you the confidence to actually do so.
And that's the real reason appearances matter. Not because they should be used as a yard stick or as a means of judgment, but because they empower you to feel your best. They give you confidence, and put you on an even playing field so that you can be the best version of you there is. And that's not a bad thing.