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Posted by on Sep 29, 2013 in About Blackacre, Adult, Attire and Appearance, Criminal Justice, Socio Economics, Uncategorized, Youth | 2 comments

Why Appearance Matters

Why Appearance Matters

Why is appearance important? What does the clothes one wears, the cut, the style, the quality of one’s attire say about that person? How do accessories, body art and/or piercings affect how one is perceived, how one is treated? What affect if any does dress and appearance have on one’s course in life, one’s personal and professional success or lack thereof?

To answer this question, imagine for a moment that you are just getting off from work. It’s been a long day al all you can think of is arriving home, to your family, kissing and hugging them, having a nice dinner and settling into your favorite chair to watch some TV. You are standing on a dark, deserted corner, all alone, waiting for the next bus. Or perhaps you are in a subway waiting for the next train. You look up and see a group of young men, hooded down, tatted up and pants “saggin” approach you. They say nothing to you. They make no threatening moves. Still, how would you feel? Would issues of personal safety rise to the fore of you consciousness?

Now suppose you are African American, walking with your elderly mother along a lonely city street. You turn the corner and  immediately witness a group of men in long white robes and pointed hoods on the other side of the street. A clan rally is in progress. And even though you realize that the group has the constitutional right to peacefully gather and associate with whomever they wish, what would you think? Would the scene not evoke unpleasant memories, deep seated fears of anther era?

Or perhaps you belong to the Jewish faith, same scenario. Instead of a robed and hooded man you are approached by young turks with skinned heads, jack boots and Nazi insignia on their clothing and flesh. How would you feel? Would there not be flashbacks to a dark time in history?

Finally, you are a young Hispanic male on a joy ride late at night with a group of friends. The car is yours, it is properly registered, the lights are operational and you are obeying the speed limit. Yet, you hear a siren, look in your rear view mirror and see a police car, lights flashing trailing you. You immediately pull over and stop your vehicle. A police officer in full regalia, firearm on one hip, police nightstick on the other steps out of his car and moves towards yours, moving along the side of the car in a way that only officers do. You know that you have doing nothing wrong, nothing illegal or even suspicious. Nevertheless, what would occupy your thoughts? Would you reasonably fear arrest and prosecution, if not a police beat-down for an offense you did not commit?

Change the scenario any way you wish. A young child confronted by a complete stranger, a young girl in an elevator full of unsavory men, an old woman in the presence unshaven strangers, the feelings would still be the same, an overwhelming sense of dread and forbearing, caused in substantial part by the attire and appearance of the other person(s).

Attire and appearance are forms of communication. They are statements of attitude and values and speak volumes about who you are, who you think you are, who you wish to be and how you wish to be perceived if not treated.

As a general rule, you will be treated precisely the way you look. If a person wears the attire of a rodeo clown, a doctor, a judge or a chef, he will be treated as such. Dress  like a woman and people will assume whether rightly or wrongly, that at the very least, you self identify as a woman, your real gender notwithstanding. The same applies to a woman who dresses and carries herself like a man.

It should therefore come as no surprise that if you look like a thug or a pimp, you should expect to be treated like a thug or a pimp. Conversely, if one’s appearance and attire is that of a professional, he/she will be perceived and treated as a professional.  Simply stated, carry yourself  with respect and dignity and the world will treat you with respect and dignity.

Therefore, attire and appearance are more than matters of personal choice. Appearance determines one’s access to power, progress, achievement and success in life. Admission to the centers of power is preserved for those who look and act the part. Personal achievement follows a similar pattern.

Equally as significant, the mere presence of body art or extreme forms of fashion and attire extend far beyond making others suspicious or fearful. From a legal perspective, image and appearance, whether it be tattoos, piercings, strange clothes, nails, or hair constitute distinguishing characteristics, thereby giving the police probable cause to stop, question and possible arrest you.

For example, if you have a face tattoo and someone with a face tattoo commits a crime, you are an automatic suspect.   The same is true of attire. If someone with a dark hoodie commits a crime and you are also wearing a dark hoodie you could be at significant risk for arrest and prosecution.

The Trayvon Martin case is a prime example of this reality. Trayvon is dead in part because of his apparel and appearance. This is not to suggest that anything about the Trayvon Martin case is either fair or reasonable. Despite his apparel, Trayvon Martin did not deserve his fate. There is no excuse for the murder of an unarmed teenager, who was not acting suspicious and who did no wrong. Even worse, the acquittal of the assailant is yet another in a long list of travesties of justice.

It cannot be overstated. If you don’t want to be treated like a thug; if you don’t want to be viewed as a criminal it is important to neither dress nor act like one. Blackacre therefore offers the following recommendations:

  • Men stop saggin. Despite what you may have heard, regardless of what your peers may tell you, strength does not lie in how tough one looks. Real power lies in a suit and tie.
  • Women get a clue. Don’t spend all of your money on clothes and cosmetics. Self respect and respect from others bears no relation to a big butt, revealing attire, elaborate hair and fancy nails.
  • Parents don’t make your children convenient targets. Two hundred dollar sneakers will not improve their test scores. It will instead make them a target for any misbegotten reprobate who won’t hesitate to take their life for a pair of damn shoes.

And never forget. There is nothing more powerful than a classy woman or a well dressed man. As always, your comments and feedback is more than welcome. Merely comment to this Blog or e-mail


  1. It is quite possible people simply dress to evoke an emotional response. The men who sag aren’t necessarily tough, but want to be viewed as such. Conversely, the “norm” for criminals who run high level scams from Realestate to insider trading is a suit and tie. The suit and tie evokes a level of comfort from people that the wearer is intelligent, knowledgeable,or trustworthy. Hmmmm… Suits and ties passed all of the heinous laws that have subjected millions to untold injustices. So is that preferable? Irony is, self respect is evident in one’s works and how they carry themselves is evident in their actions. But the immediate giving of respect is tied to how a person looks. When a person opens their mouth is when we can find out who the person really is.

    • First, let me thank you for your comments. Next let me thank you for the depth and breath of your comments. However, one of the goals of Blackacre is to change the dialogue from the complaint, explanation, blame, defer, debate and analyze to focusing solutions. Stated differently, it is better to solve problems than to endlessly debate them.

      So I ask you. Is the attire, appearance and demeanor of our youth a problem and if so what solutions would you propose to deal with it? Thanks.

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