Like most kids, I hated wearing school uniform. I never saw the point of it. We used to get told that uniform was to prevent the poorer children feeling bad because their parents couldn't afford the sort of clothes that the children from better off families wore. We all knew that was nonsense, of course. You could always tell the poorer kids, even in uniform: they wore hand knitted jumpers and clothes that were either too big, because they were hand-me downs from older sisters or brothers, or too small because they were last years' uniform.
The richer kids had the shop bought jumpers (which, incidentally, were of far inferior quality to home made knitwear, despite being more expensive) and their shirts were never a washed out shade of grey. Upon fraying or looking tired and worn out, the more affluent kids' shirts would be discarded in favour of new, bright white ones.
No, we all knew then as we do now that uniform is to keep the wearers thinking and acting the same: to prevent individual thoughts, ideas and behaviour. It's a form of control. I'm not sure that it's always such a bad thing really though. There has to be a certain amount of order in institutions such as schools and public services. Chaos isn't always a good thing!
However branding has become ever more important to employers and individual personalities have perhaps become a victim of the uniform.
I've worked from home for much of my life and many years ago, I remember a trainer telling me to always get dressed for work, even if I was just making phone calls from home. "People will know if you are in your pyjamas," she told me, "your tone of voice will be sloppy." She encouraged me to dress as if I was going out for the day: tidy my hair, put on some lipstick and stand or sit up straight to make the calls. She was right. I felt more alert and organised. It's a tip I've always remembered and still use. I achieve so much more when I smarten myself up. I've passed the tip on to many others.
I rarely wear high heels these days but thinking about writing this article reminded me how great I feel in heels. I suppose when I'm talking about high heels, I'm directing this point at women but I'm sure that good shoes must have the same effect on men, maybe a heel does the trick for men, too?
The thing about high heels is they make you taller. Instantly, that gives you a psychological boost. Your posture changes too. It's an amazing feeling.
We may not like it but it's a fact. People make judgements about us from the clothes we wear. Like it or not we all think we can tell the kind of profession someone is in by the way they dress.
Obviously, certain clothes are more appropriate for some lines of work than others. If you work in a gym, a suit and tie would probably be restrictive and ridiculous. Also, it's unlikely you'd consider wearing a mini skirt to go to work as a scaffolder.
I guess what I'm really saying is: consider the kind of career you would like to have. Take a look at the people who already work in that line of business and start to emulate them. It doesn't matter if you are currently unemployed yet you want to be a TV presenter. Discard the shabby trackies and grubby trainers and start dressing for your new career. It will change your attitude... really! Not only that: you will find different kinds of people start talking to you and you never know when someone might come your way who could be a useful connection for you.
Years ago, I had a career change and went on a brewery training course to train as a pub manager. Before I even started the course, my father-in-law said to me. "Kym, you've started to look like a pub manager already." It was true. I'd started to wear a suit or a smart jacket and skirt more often after a long spell of wearing jeans and t shirts most of the time!
One of the things I've noticed throughout my life is (and this is just my experience) people who love to wear bright and varied colours, tend to be generally more adventurous in life. They have a more positive outlook and are keener to embrace change.
I've noticed that people who are introverts, tend to stick to neutral colours, often favouring black, white and cream with the occasional muted colour. These are often the people who seek approval from others and are shy about voicing their own opinion: often agreeing with others for fear of drawing attention to themselves.
I know someone who has over twenty white tops - all almost identical, yet nothing red, purple or yellow in her wardrobe. She worries a lot about people not liking her. I have another acquaintance whom I've known for about 25 years. I looked in her wardrobe once. She has nothing in it that is not black. She has a very pesimistic view of life. She has been in a job she hates for most of her working life. Of course I've suggested that she should dump most of her black clothes and taste the rainbow but she hasn't. She's comfortable being unhappy.
Alright, it doesn't have to be pants but everyone should have an item of clothing that brings them good luck. It might be a pair of shoes, a tie, bracelet, a hair band, even but don't wait for your fairy godmother to deliver your lucky garment. It is for YOU to give it the power to bring you luck every time you wear it. Choose a special piece and bestow good vibrations on it and know that each time you wear it to an important meeting or job interview, it will fill you with the confidence you need for you to be your best. Go on - try it. What have you got to lose?