Do Clothes Make The Man?

There is a marketing and advertising maxim that is used from time to time that relates to the mechanism for selling products. It goes something like, “Sell the sizzle, not the sausage.” A marketer aims to focus on the sizzle and use it to sell the sausage. That is, focus on the benefits of this offer or product because that is what will sell it to our customers.

When you think of the way that some products are marketed it is clear that this approach is widely used. Insurance companies don’t advertise policies (sausage) but rather peace of mind (sizzle). Cosmetics companies don’t advertise chemicals, pastes and powders in their make-up advertising; they advertise attraction to the opposite sex. As one of the well-known cosmetic manufacturers once said, “In the factory we make cosmetics, but in the shop we sell hope.”

But too often we see that this focus goes too far and what we end up with is “all sizzle and no sausage.” The mooted benefits of the product or service are blown out of proportion to the extent that the product or service does not deliver.

Unfortunately though this same kind of thinking has been translated into perceptions of people and is used to weigh-up and judge our fellow man. One common saying goes, “The clothes make the man,” which perpetuates such discriminatory behaviour. Thinking such as this is wrong. The clothes a person wears may make them look like they belong to a certain profession, group or socio-economic level in society, but that may be a misperception.

For instance, if I wear a doctors surgical gown, or a pilots uniform, or a dentists jacket or even a mechanics coverall without having the necessary training and experience to do these jobs, would you let me work on your car or teeth? Would you come fly with me or allow me to do open heart surgery on you just because my clothes suggest I am capable? You would be foolish if you did, as I have never trained in any of these areas! Do the clothes make the man in these situations?

The same holds true for those who judge people by the cut of a suit, the colour of a shirt and tie or the shine on their shoes. This is true also for those who judge celebrities on the red carpet into best or worst dressed categories. Does it really matter? You could take any man off the street, clean him up and put him into a fine Italian suit, silk shirt and tie and hand made shoes so that he looked a million dollars and it would not change who he is. Peoples’ perception of who he is might change dramatically, but they would be wrong.

The reverse applies just as well. If you took the leaders of some of the major corporations, or our best doctors, scientists, engineers and so on, and put them in rags, would they suddenly lose their skills? Absolutely not!

And if a person is a good person when in rags, will they not still be a good person if they are dressed in fine clothing? The suggestion that the clothes make the man (or woman) is utterly ridiculous. Sure we all like to dress well and we feel good when we do, but it will not change who or what we are. Rather it is the man or woman that makes the clothes not the other way around.

The bible gives us good insight and direction in this regard for it says, “Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold and wearing of fine clothing, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:3-4) Also in relation to the wearing of clothing to distinguish people above others Jesus said of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, “They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long…” (Matthew 23:5) They looked good in their religious robes but inwardly were full of hypocrisy.

Truly it is not important what you wear but rather who you are. It is much more important to inwardly clothe yourself with humility, wisdom, knowledge, charity and love than it is to be concerned about outward appearances and the wearing of fine clothing. For “mutton dressed up as lamb” is still mutton and a good person will still be a good person regardless of how they look.

Correct perspective over matters such as this will ensure we do not wrongly judge nor show prejudice and bias to any of our fellow men and women.

I hope that you found something here to help you or add to your own knowledge. If you have any questions, then please feel free to contact me.