Consider being the unaccessorized man for a week. That means leaving the house everyday with no hat, no unnecessary glasses, no watch, no jewelry other than a wedding or engagement ring, no scarf, no umbrella, and no bag of any kind. You just roll out of bed, wash up, get dressed, and go. For most men, this is likely an unthinkable idea. At almost every level of society, accessories make the man. It is a part of our unspoken statement to the world.
Life’s a stage and we are the players, each with our roles. Our accessories are the necessary props that identify us to others. A bulky pair of over-the-ear headphones informs people that you don’t want to be bothered and that the music in your head is more important than whatever is going on around you. That might be the message you were intending to send. Like body language, your accessories communicate things about you to the world. The reason you want to walk back your use of accessories is to start over and be more intentional about what you carry and wear. Here is some of what your accessory choices say about you that you might want to rethink:
You Are a Very Important Person
It was not enough to put on a 3-piece suit. When a person went into a bank for a personal loan, they would put on the cuff links and the nicest watch they had. They would pick up their briefcase and enter the bank as if they were doing the bank a favor by allowing that bank to give them a loan. Everything about their accessory choices was a message that they were a very important person who should be taken seriously.
Today, you don’t need to put on a show of being important and invincible. Everyone needs a little help from time to time. You can apply for one of those personal loans, no credit required without ever leaving home. You can get your answer right away without bothering to dig out the cuff links. These days, overt signs of self-importance are just viewed as pretentious. That is definitely not the message you want to send. If you are going for an in-person bank loan or job interview, leave the Rolex at home. You want to look like you are ready for work, not as if work were beneath you.
You Carry Lots of Expensive Things
You might actually carry around lots of expensive things. But you don’t really want a business bag that advertises that fact. Kids carry computers. And they manage to do so in a way that protects the computer but does not make them a target. The whole purpose of many business bags is to advertise the fact that you have some very expensive things that you need to have with you at all times. On a crowded city street, the thieves now know exactly who to target.
Even without the threat of being mugged, there is the simple fact that you are carrying a bag that costs more than most people’s computer. It could be possible that you need that kind of fashion statement for your Wall Street gig. But there is something a little obscene about carrying a bag like that just for the purpose of standing out and above the crowd. You are not above the crowd. You are the crowd. Try leaving the bag at home and rubbing shoulders with the rest of us on the subway. After a while, you will wonder why you ever spent the Benjamins for it in the first place.
You Are Too Cool for Eye Contact
Sunglasses are great for protecting your eyes from bright sunlight. They are lousy for eye-contact and human interaction. You should probably wear sunglasses more often than you do. But you should never wear them in inappropriate settings. You really don’t want to be the guy wearing sunglasses indoors because you think they make you look cool. Hint: They don’t.
Your choice of accessories says a lot about you beyond their practical use. Before putting them on or taking them with you, give some thought about that message. You might actually be a very important person who carries a lot of expensive things and is too cool for eye-contact. But that is not something you want to advertise, unless of course, you do.