The Modern Survival Guide #15

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Personal Appearance

People judge you based on how you look. Now, there’s an entire other argument about whether or not that’s a good thing, or fair, or sexist, or racist, or whatever. We’re not going there. We’re dealing with the world as it is. People judge you hard based on how you look.

  • Keep your clothing in good repair. This can mean different things for different kinds of clothing. If something is supposed to be fashionably ripped, keep it fashionably ripped. If it’s supposed to be neatly stitched, keep it neatly stitched. Shine your shoes as needed. Repair your heels when they get run down. If you aren’t sure how to keep your clothes in good condition, or simply can’t, there are dry cleaners, tailors, and shoe shops all over the place who will be happy to help you with that.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. If you’re going to a funeral, do not show up in neon go-go boots. If you’re going to a club, do not show up in a somber black suit (unless you’re going for a Look). Stay away from miniskirts in the office. Do not wear wife beaters to church if you can avoid it. If you don’t know what clothing is appropriate for a venue, look it up. Google will be happy to help you with that.
  • Be stylish when possible. Keep up with the current fashion for your age group, and match it at social events as much as possible. You can be unfashionable with your friends and your lovers (hopefully). With your work cohort or with people you’re trying to impress, still be yourself, but layer some style on top of that. Do not be that adult who dresses like a teenager. Do not be that coworker who dresses like a slob.

Personal Reputation

In many ways the reputation you leave behind matters more than what you look like on any particular day. This is because someone’s impression of you is what they experienced from you yesterday, last week, last month, and last year all rolled together. You therefore have a lot of control over your reputation. To make a reputation count, you have to maintain two things: a good attitude and trust.


Here’s the thing… people don’t like other people who make them feel bad. People really like other people who make them feel good, build them up, compliment them, and make them feel comfortable. So, there are a few levels to maintaining a good attitude.


Trust is extraordinarily important; without it, societies cannot function, or at least cannot function efficiently. Whether they understand the full implications of the concept or not, people will judge you based on how much they trust you. So, for the purposes of this discussion, here is a quick checklist of rules for maintaining trust:

  1. Be honest whenever possible: Nobody likes a fibber. It makes it more difficult for people to trust you and make plans with you if they can’t believe anything you say. From a practical perspective, it’s also incredibly difficult to be a good liar; keeping track of all the lies is exhausting. It is usually better and easier to just tell the truth. Exceptions to this rule exist, but should always be in line with rule #1.
  2. Be dependable: Dependability is one of the great virtues, and it rests on doing what you say you will do. It is enormously beneficial to have a reputation as a dependable person. People are more likely to trust you, confide in you, offer you work, and take you at your word. Exceptions to this rule exist, but should always be in line with rule #1.

Summing Up

Your image is a combination of your appearance and your personal reputation. Neither of these qualities should be neglected, and indeed a large portion of our education and childhood is spent incorporating these concepts. You ignore them at your own peril.

Searching for truth in a world focused on belief.

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