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Does the way you dress show respect? Or undermine it?

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It is the season of graduations, and I’ve been to several already this summer. While watching today’s crop of adults-to-be (and their parents) I thought about my own journey from high school to college to the working world. My parents grew up in the 40s and 50s. In their early working years, neither Mom nor Dad would get caught dead leaving the house without being dressed for the day. Dad always wore suits, and Mom couldn’t imagine leaving the house without her heels and pearls on. And this was pretty typical of the times. People dressed professionally, spoke properly and said rare words like ‘please’ and ‘thank’ you and ‘Ma’am’.

What happened to those days when people took pride in the way they looked and behaved? At my daughter’s high school reunion I was amazed at the number of people in t-shirts, sweat pants or shorts-and-sneakers. For a sizable part of the crowd, this was the last day they would EVER set foot inside a school of any ilk.

So why not dress up for it? For most of us, high school graduations are just something to get through. College is what we really consider important. Even so, this is a BIG milestone in most people’s lives regardless of where they go to from here. Also, there was a large portion who had enlisted in the armed forces. And statistically some of those kids aren’t coming home from their deployments alive.

Grandparents were out in force and the parking lot was filled with license plates from far-off states.

So with all this celebrating going on I was shocked to see how little effort people put into their appearance. Which led me to think about my online dating experiences. Again, there is a large percentage of profiles (men and women are equally guilty here) with TERRIBLE pictures. Many are grainy, out of focus or poorly lit. And then you look at the outfits these people are wearing! Guys in bib overalls holding a fish, women in baggy sweat pants with no makeup and bed-head. Taken in the bathroom mirror, with a disaster of a room behind them! Really? This is the best-foot-forward-I-want-to-make-a-great-first-impression photo you could find for your main profile pic?!?

For me, it comes down to a show of respect. These kids were closing a major chapter in their lives and they deserved our respect for their job well done. For a first date (or any date that involves being seen in public) I always dress up. It makes me feel very manly and I enjoy that. I totally get how some women get turned on by a zillion pairs of shoes and have to have a half-dozen little black dresses. If they are short, swishy and above the knee, better yet!

And what happens once you’re in a relationship that we tend to give up on the personal hygiene and dress code? The lingerie stays in the drawer, replaced with your nasty, dirty sweatshirt from that high school you attended a (couple) decades ago. We totally give up on ourselves, and then wonder why our mates get tempted to look elsewhere? We put on 50 lbs, stop wanting to leave the couch and then are totally surprised when our spouse cheats on us. Hmmm.

So what do you think? If a date shows up and it is obvious they took time and made an effort to look nice, does that improve your perception of them? Does it improve their chances for date two? What about after dating for a while? Does your dress code slip a little? A lot? Let me know your thoughts…

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