For many an educated person, adhering to fashion standards and dressing codes is a waste of precious time that would have been spent in a library or research lab. Lack of enough resources always comes up as the obstacle to building an all-season wardrobe. On the contrary, it is the same ‘educated’ who will pay a premium charge for an ‘express’ service at the dry cleaners’ to have their only suit cleaned in an hour lest they get late for the boardroom meeting. This reminds me of the old adage ‘…you say education is expensive, try costing ignorance…?’
Naturally, cheap is expensive. But our ‘knowledgeable’ colleagues never seem to grasp this truth. Sometimes, a classic and stylish outfit may cost you more than the average market price; this does not necessarily make you a ‘big spender’. More often than not, the resulting image yields a better income. It is also common to loose a fortune just because your image could not measure up to expectations. Victims of these occurrences rarely admit their ‘negligence’ as the cause of failure. Some will even blame it on corruption, favoritism or some other innocent excuse.
While education ought to make one receive and analyze information, it does not influence perception unless the person allows it to. Fashion is so complicated yet simple. It is complicated in the sense that you cannot grasp its fundamentals overnight and simple in its orderly arrangement of functions.
Grasping fashion basics can be as simple as the educated person chooses to make it. The understanding that you are a finished but unpackaged product, gives you a wide exploration of options to brand yourself in whichever package you deem appropriate. However, knowledge about ‘packages’ will determine the value of the end product ‘you’. When undermined, image and expression dent your personality at the most unexpected moment. Imagine a Chief Executive Officer turning up in the boardroom dressed like a pop star! The pop-wear is not wrong, but the code is irrelevant given the circumstances.
Taking fashion and image knowledge for granted means neglecting the core values that define you. An educated person’s values cut across the board. The image of the ideal educated person in general consists of a person of' character revealed in appearance, speech and expression. However much power one may hold, they cannot be fully viewed as persons of character if they do not conform to standard dressing and expression codes.
Excellent brains need to be packaged in an outer saleable image. Although, most of us may want to associate more hair with wisdom, I doubt the authenticity of an unkempt head as a source of fresh ideas. In any case, the unchecked image may result in some weird perceptions of who Africans are – no wonder James Watson labels Africans as people with low IQ.
Our celebrated academicians like Prof. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o have for a longtime clung to long beards and unkempt hair. They might have noble ideas, but their outlook does not relay corresponding signalls. Education, image and character ought to complement each other. Your image is made up of several components that need to be organized to achieve an orderly and creative arrangement.
For your fashion image to make an impact, knowledge of whatever you adorn counts. Every time you pick an outfit off the hanger, you determine the image that will sell you on that day; you prepare for the impression you will create to your environment.
By Antony Odeo
Mr. Odeo is an African Executive Staff Writer
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