It’s been said, and it’s true, that people will judge you by your appearance. Dress the way you wish to be addressed, they say.
I also think, though, that you can flip the judgment around by your actions. Say, for example, the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness. If you didn’t see it, I’ll sum up the scene I’m referring to:
Will Smith’s character has an important job interview at a prestigious financial firm. He’s running late, his suit is all dirty and wrinkled, he hasn’t shaved, and he just looks like he slept on the street the previous night (which, I think he did). The interviewers look at him as if he doesn’t belong in the room, naturally. But when Will starts to speak, and they look at his resume, things begin to change. They seem interested, and long story short, Will gets the job.
You could look like you’re not the part that someone expects, but the first-impression judgment isn’t the final call. The performance is still to come. That’s where you can make your final impression and flip that judgment on its head.
Yes, that first impression could cause people to “not take you seriously” initially. But when you speak/act, they see that too, right? Wouldn’t that make people reassess their snap judgments? Wouldn’t that make someone pause before judging the next person they see who looks like you did?
I understand the psychology of dressing and carrying oneself a certain way to draw certain interest. But, as they say in sports, “that’s why they play the game”: You still have to deliver the goods, whether you’re in a sweat suit or a three-piece suit. In basketball, there’s a saying that some players look great in the layup line — watch them during warmup and you’re worried that this guy is going to be trouble for the opponent. Looking good in warm ups doesn’t mean you’ll be good in the game.
Looking good and being good are not a package deal.