New Year New You Post: Glamour and You

Deb’s NYNY prompt for this week is about glamour. I agree with just about everything she says, especially about getting clothes tailored. Speaking as guy who has a 20 inch neck, if I did not get my shirts taken in they would look like a balloon.

There is one small point she makes that I wanted to make the theme of my own post. She mentions:

“The old cliche about looking your best helps you feel your best does have some merit, especially if you have love or job related goals.  It doesn’t mean that you need to fit anyone else’s mold of looking your best but your own.  If you don’t like wearing makeup, don’t.  If you don’t like wearing a tie, don’t.  This is about being the best personal you you can be and about feeling good in your own skin.”

Here’s the thing, there are a LOT of people who cannot get out of their own way when it comes to what they wear. This is especially true of people in the occult and magic community. Because the volume on our inner worlds is often as high, or higher than than the volume on our outer world, we can sometimes loose sight of how influential some of the outer stuff is.  Sometimes we can also get so wrapped up in the way we think the world should work, that we forget how it does work.

Last year when I wrote a piece for the blog on the power of the necktie I got a few responses that were negative: one claiming that ties are a backward anachronism and that “appearances are nothing, reality matters”. Since then I have been doing some talks here and there and spoken with more people who find a tie to be outside their comfort zone, and feel that it is a betrayal of what they stand for.

Here is the thing though: appearances DO matter. They matter a lot. In just about any executive position, you can have all the skill in the world, but if you cannot project the image that people respond to, it doesn’t matter. In an election a candidate with gravitas with beat a candidate with intelligence every time. I was once laid off from a job over the fact that I did not dress as professionally as the other worker in the same position. Never mind the fact that the company was so casual that people sometimes wore pajamas to work; when it came down to finding a factor to differentiate between us: that was what it came down to.

So, in the case of casting glamour in the magical sense: it is often precisely someone else’s mold of appearance that does matter.

But that is ok, because in a way that commenter was right: appearances should be nothing. Not that we should expect that appearances mean nothing to everyone else. Appearances should mean nothing to US.

It’s crazy to me that people who can see the wisdom of home made robes with sticky felt triangles on indicating their rank within an order, or who are more than happy to meet up wearing nothing at all, are so easily thrown into discomfort by a business suite or make up.

Understand this: whatever your style is, however you dress, its a fucking uniform. No different than any other uniform. Your self-image should not be married to it. When you are a teenager it is more or less normal to need to identify with a tribe by dress. Part of being an adult is getting over that kind of thinking – but a lot of us don’t.

In the 60’s and 70’s Chogyam Trungpa used to make his hippie students dress in business attire to help deconstruct their ego. Your self image should not be tied to wearing a suit or not wearing a suit. It should not be tied to wearing make up or not wearing make up. I cannot speak to make up, but I can say that if you are wearing a good suit that fits there is almost nothing that is more comfortable to wear. To quote Barney Stinson, “Suits are full of  joy. They are the sartorial equivalent of a baby’s smile”.

Ever watch that show “What Not to Wear“? People start out defending the fact that they dress frumpy, or like their 13 year old daughter, or like a refugee from a renaissance faire. They get told the rules for their body and age and profession. If you are a tatoo artist, it is different than if you are a project manager. If you are 20 its different than if you are 40. In almost every show the subject starts shopping and has a friggin melt down over letting go of their old self image. In almost all cases once they let it go, they feel better. Yes it is TV, but I have seen enough in reality to have seen that kind of thing myself IRL.

So in the New Year New You project, my advice is to recognize when someone else’s mold really does matter. You cannot not influence people – its just a  question of how. Recognize when your comfort zone is entirely inappropriate for where you are in life. Even if you feel sexy dressing like a 20 year old when you are 40, other people are not seeing you that way and somewhere in your mind you KNOW that it is effecting you negatively. Even if you feel awesome in your 3 wolf moon shirt and 3 inch pentagram at the funeral – other people are not seeing you that way. Find out what it is like to stretch your comfort zone and detach your ego from that external crap. Once you let go of some of that baggage you will feel sexier dressed like a hot 40 year old and more awesome in a tie and jacket than you did before.

And, just to quote Barney again”Suit UP, because 2012 is going to be Legen….wait for it… DARY!




About Inominandum

Author. Sorcerer. Consultant. I have 30 plus years of experience making magic a reality for myself, my clients, and my students. For a complete background go to
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12 Responses to New Year New You Post: Glamour and You

  1. Andrew B. says:

    For those who do magical work based on the planets, as well, I recommend wearing a tie based on the color of the planet of the day. I’ve found it very helpful in my own work, because among other things it reminds me to cultivate the appropriate virtue of the day, and avoid the particular vice. Also, it reminds my students what the day of the week is, to write onto their worksheets and in their notes:

    Monday: pale blue.
    Tuesday: red.
    Wednesday: orange
    Thursday: purple, or royal blue & gold (easier to find)
    Friday: green
    Saturday: black or gray
    Sunday: yellow

    On those occasions when I have to be at a joyful function on Saturday and a gray tie would seem a little too dour (weddings, for example), I’ll go with the color of the planetary hour that the event starts. It works surprisingly well.

    • WSA says:

      I had a girlfriend who reported that one of her teachers recommended that the students try wearing underwear the color of the chakras, one at a time and for a week for each color, and try to detect what affect that had upon the events of the week. She claimed that it was really obvious what chakra you were “tonifying” by the wearing of a particular color.

  2. runeworker says:

    living in the t-shirt and jeans capital of the world (Los Angeles) it is really striking how powerful a more polished and upscale appearance transforms you. Instead of looking like every other schmoe at the club, or in the store, suddenly people think you are interesting and important and they don’t even realize it.

    There is a saying a friend of uses “We are all just God in drag.” No matter where you are, you are in drag, a costume, a uniform. It just depends upon what the uniform says or how it relates to (or transgresses) the expectations of people. When do you choose to transgress “normal” rules though be prepapred to deal with lots of questions and extreme (and inappropriate) responses.

  3. WSA says:

    Oh, this is SO true. One must wear the accepted uniform for the job at hand, or even more importantly, for the job to which one aspires.

    I have always preferred corporate dress for interactions with the public but when I showed up for my first day of massage school driving a white Cadillac Eldorado and dressed in a suit, I was told later by a woman (hippie-dippy, long hair, vegetarian, militantly unshaven legs) who became a life-long friend, that she thought to herself “Who IS this person and WHAT are they doing HERE with us SERIOUS students….” I had just come from my corporate consulting gig and did not have time to change, although, I probably would not have bothered anyway. It didn’t matter in that instance as I was a tuition-paying student and could not be excluded. Further, even had I known what she and my fellow students were thinking, I would not have cared. In fact, I would have been amused. But that would have only been because I really enjoy giving others “Zen moments” which I knew I would do the moment I opened my mouth.

    You see, I was a Tibetan Buddhist, (at that time) vegetarian, herbalist, in addition to being a corporate consultant. It’s the corporate world that I always the most fun with because I always dressed at least one notch above the average employee at every job where I was consulting. I would be taken for the most serious of corporate players. BUT I knew that I was a Tibetan Buddhist, vegetarian, herbalist, massage school student dressed in Barney’s or Jones NY suits only doing that particular job as a means to the end of pursuing my alternative medicine educational and Spiritual Path.

    Not only is the socially accepted wardrobe for a job or function a uniform, it is CAMOUFLAGE! It allows you to go where you otherwise would not be allowed to go and therefore learn things you would otherwise be excluded from learning by appearing to be part of the “in crowd” no matter what the particular persuasion of the crowd. As illustrated by my tale of the first day of massage school, that works both ways, up and down and cross-wise the socio-economic and professional scales. If you are in a hospital, wanna be invisible? Wear a lab coat. In corporate America, wear a suit; I recommend just one notch above the average employee (adds power and authority and cuts down on questions.) Wanna be accepted without question at an Ashram? Wear yoga gear and by all means NOT a suit. BTW, if you are of a disadvantaged class according to the persuasion of the particular group you are trying to infiltrate, such as a woman amongst professional engineers, a person of color at the executive level of a corporation in the West or Japan, then make it TWO notches in formality above your peers.

    The garb for a role is just a uniform, just camouflage, just a costume for one of the roles you play in the play of your life.

    I am surprised to hear Inominandum report that there’s so much resistance to that idea among sorcery adepts and similar. I would have expected they of all people would have taken full advantage of the camouflage provided by a uniform/costume. It’s an easy to acquire glamour that will immediately confer authenticity, authority and power upon its wearer; I cannot imagine why one would choose to scorn such a powerful advantage!

  4. Rose Weaver says:

    Excellent post, Jason and I could not agree more! Though I am a jeans and t-shirt type for the most part, there are times when I still have to “dress the part”. I had to donate the bulk of my wardrobe when I moved into a smaller space just over a year ago, but I did keep some of my nicer items, not knowing when I might need them. I no longer work, but one never knows.

    During October, after my city began it’s own Occupy Movement, I was invited to give a talk to an introductory class at the University of New Mexico on the Occupy Movement as a whole, including it’s history, why they should be interested in it, etc. The Professor informed me that the vast majority of her students had no idea about what Occupy Wall Street was, why people were protesting on campus, what was happening at many of the protests, nothing! I prepared a speech with slides to illustrate it (mostly charts and graphs), and then searched my closet for an appropriate outfit.

    I’ve taught classes and spoken in public before; enough to know that very few are going to take you seriously if you’re wearing jeans and a t-shirt which is my daily uniform. I pulled out the one pair of casual, yet nice pair of pants I have (yeah, I need to update), a nice, but hip sweater, and topped things off with my brown ragged hemmed crushed velvet long over-shirt.

    I looked good, yet also fit in well with my audience. I wasn’t too stuffy or too dressed down.

    When the students entered the room, I was able to make them comfortable with chit-chat, and though they were slightly bored at the beginning, I was able to engage them in conversation. By the end of the discussion, they were all involved, asking questions, wanting to know more about the local Occupy Movement and Occupy Wall Street.

    It had been a long time since I’d spoken in front of any audience, even in a kind of teaching capacity, but you and Deborah are certainly correct… always know your audience. Dress for the gig and you’ll be successful every time.

  5. Dante says:

    Of course none of this applies if you’re visibly transgendered; people will stare at you and treat you like a freak no matter what you wear. It’s very likely if you’re non-white or a woman in a male dominated profession, too, as a poster above pointed out. There’s only so much a suit can do if your body isn’t what corporate America wants.

    While there’s certainly situations where camoflauge comes in handy, I find it really funny you’re encouraging people to buy (literally, suits are expensive) into the sham and perpetuate it, rather than stand aside and deconstruct it, as many IT companies have done.

    • WSA says:

      Dante, why not do both?

      Much of my professional wardrobe came from thrift and consignment shops; some came from department stores, but I never, ever, paid full-price. And the sham exists, why not learn all about it from the inside in order to deconstruct it more skillfully?

      If you’re skillful, you can create a lot of “Zen moments” for people. Fun for you, but ultimately deconstructive to the establishment: For instance, I was never an employee, but rather always a consultant; for this story to make sense you must know that the IRS defines “consultant” rather strictly as someone who is independent of any policy that affects employees like set arrival/departure times, lunch hour length, work-day length, interim performance standards, etc. Nor is the company allowed to provide the consult with tools such as a desk, computer, office supplies, etc. You also need to know that in my experience, all companies violate this stricture all of the time. So, to the story: I was often accosted by full-time employees who were concerned that I might just be consulting there to try to take their job. When so accosted I would say that I was not interested in employment, which they never understood, and asked “why ever not?” to which I replied “I prefer my illusion of independence to your illusion of security.” No one ever had anything to say back, I always left them standing in a fugue. A Zen moment like that is… well, I think of it like a software worm… it works on them at a fundamental level of their programming.

      As to being an obviously transgendered person, I can’t speak to that, it’s too far outside of my personal experience; but I can imagine ways it could work. Move of a challenge obviously, but I would assume that much would depend on the self-confidence, the chutzpa if you will, of the person. I often came in contact with another person, a consultant if memory serves, a woman who was massively obese. But she dressed in wild-colored suits with wild jewelry, and she managed to exude not only artistic flair, but also elegance. That’s really tough at her level of obesity and as a consultant she had no protections of employment laws, so she had to be very highly skilled and respected in that old-guard, mostly male industry. I am certain her wardrobe was unbelievably, heart-stoppingly expensive, but it allowed her to successfully pursue the path she had chosen with grace and finesse.

      And that is, after all, the ultimate success, right? Being able to pursue the Path you have chosen? What’s a little camouflage if it allows you to accomplish that?

    • inominandum says:

      Hi Dante, lets take this piece by piece. You write “Of course none of this applies if you’re visibly transgendered; people will stare at you and treat you like a freak no matter what you wear.”

      1. There is no guarantee that will happen to a transgendered person, it depends entirely on where they work.
      2. The rules about what to wear would certainly be applicable to whatever gender the person is transitioning to or primarily identifies with. In fact, they are even more vital. A man who is transitioning to a woman, but still holding the general frame of a man NEEDS to know what kind of clothing looks good and appropriate on a large framed woman, precisely because it will help mitigate any kind of akwardness.
      3. Less than .25 percent of the US population are trangender/sexual in any way. Why is it that people love to identify some group that a piece of advice doesnt work for (in this case incorrectly) and than claim that because it is not applicable to everyone everywhere that it is bad advice?

      Next, you write:
      “It’s very likely if you’re non-white or a woman in a male dominated profession, too, as a poster above pointed out. There’s only so much a suit can do if your body isn’t what corporate America wants.”

      Again I am left asking WTF is your point? My wife is African American and a successful business woman. You think she would get further NOT dressing appropriatly for work? I mean listen to your arguments. I deal with how the world works, not the utopia that I would like it to be. Those that actually make changes to get it closer to that utopia, more than not, are those that first deal with the world as it is.

      Finally you write: “I find it really funny you’re encouraging people to buy (literally, suits are expensive) into the sham and perpetuate it, rather than stand aside and deconstruct it, as many IT companies have done.”

      Again several points.

      1. Suits are not all that expensive. I was at JC Penny’s this afternoon and saw a perfectly acceptable single breasted pin-stripe suit for $100. Know how and where to shop.
      2. Its not a sham. It is culture. You are probably the type of person who when visiting a foreign culture gets all excited about every exotic aspect of it. Well their cultural dress is no less a sham than ours is. Clothing is a sham beyond what keeps you warm. Again, its all a fucking uniform, I am just suggesting people figure out if theirs is working for them or against them.
      3. I worked for an IT company where people literally wore pajamas to work. When it came down to choosing between laying me off and laying a co-worker who dressed in proper business casual with the occasional tie here and there – it was the wardrobe that made the distinction. They are not as deconstructed as you might think, especially if you move from a programming or creative position into a management track.
      4. Most people do not work for an IT company. Should I suggest that if you work for an insurance company that you dress as down as possible so that they can do some half-assed “deconstruction” of the “sham”? Maybe later on we can go write our manifesto at the coffee house, that will really stick it to the MAN! :-)

  6. Brian says:

    THis post makes me laugh a bit…

    I call my suits my “doctor drag”, and I have different suits for the different roles that I play. When I am teaching I will dress somewhat casually or perhaps with a tie and the whole 9 yards. When working clinically I NEVER wear a tie (health reasons) but wear my lab coat like magic vestments. Because this is how I participate in the series of ceremonies we call life.

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