Let’s Stop the Race to the Bottom

Appearance is still the first and most impactful way that you communicate who you are and determine how you are treated.

When my three sons were adolescents, I insisted that they wear dress shirts, slacks, and blazers when we traveled, knowing that it would make a positive difference in how they would be treated, and that training has carried over into their adulthood. What’s true for air travel is also true in competing for jobs, landing a sales account, securing capital for a business, shopping, or even being considered a potential tenant by a landlord. Does that mean you have to wear a three-piece suit or evening dress and pumps wherever you go? No. But it does mean knowing the difference between wearing neat, casual, and appropriate clothing and dressing in an ill-fitting, inappropriate, and sloppy manner.

The bottom line: We must do better. We get one chance to make a first impression, and that first impression is almost always visual. First impressions are critical to business and professional success, and our general quality of life. Dressing in a way that commands respect has a positive influence on the way people treat you and on the opportunities you are afforded. Stop dressing like a teenager, or worse, like some of the entertainers your teen may idolize. Set an example by dressing and carrying yourself like a person worthy of respect so that when we reach the top, we arrive in a first-class manner.

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6 Responses to Let’s Stop the Race to the Bottom

  1. Alinda says:

    Thank you so much for so eloquently saying what needs to be said.

  2. me says:

    Mr. Graves,

    What’s the difference between a fitted cap and your facial grooming, especially in today’s business environment? Could one expect to be taken seriously at a job interview, for instance?

  3. Carmen Taylor Jones says:

    Dear Mr. Graves. I nearly leapt with joy when I read you opening commentary “Let’s Stop the Race to the Bottom”. We, black folk, are suffering from a serious lack of class! I am the CEO of both an LLC and a non-profit. The non-profit serves mature women who are transitioning from incarceration back into the community and young women who need guidance, love and direction. These women are searching for role-models and examples of women, with style, poise and grace – and trust me, sometimes that is a feat nearly impossible to accomplish. As you know, our outward attire and taste is a live commercial of our minds and our SOULs. We look the part of hussies and hoodlums because somebody decided that was the new “sexy”. The worse part, the reality, is that so many accept that its okay, that its cool. From Basketball Wives, which I find deplorable, to Bad Girls Club, which I am starting a petition to have it removed from television – it is evident, that we have already “arrived at the bottom”. We, those of us care, have the courage and committment to creating a “better world” must step forward. Change – good change, ain’t always easy BUT it is possible!!

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