Clothes make the (hu)man

“Our clothes are too much a part of us for most of us ever to be entirely indifferent to their condition: it is as though the fabric were indeed a natural extension of the body, of even of the soul.” Quentin Bell

Clothes, they’re who we are. It is undeniable that what we wear represents our being, our essence, our selves. Our attire often sheds light on the inner workings of our souls – either for a particular day or more in that “this is who I am” kind of way.

For someone as insecure as I, another woman’s clothes let me know if I need to be intimidated or not. Generally, the answer to that is “Yes, do be so,” unless the other woman forgot to put her pants on before leaving the house.

Superficial, sure. Wouldn’t we all love to think that we don’t form opinions based on a person’s Louboutins or their flesh colored Velcro tennis shoes, but we do and you know it.

So, with that out in the open, I’m going to fill you in on what messages certain clothes convey:

Hello, look at me in my brand new yoga pants – I’m trying to look sexycasual. Is it working?

Hello, look at me in my faded yoga pants and tattered t-shirt – I am a chill human being, and I do yoga.

High heels = high maintenance

Although, high heels can also mean, “I just mopped my floor.”

Belt (man) = I really want to accessorize but this is all that is acceptable.

No belt on a man = Oh, is that what those loops are on my jeans?

Skinny jeans (man) = I’m not from Montezuma County (at least in my head I’m not).

Skinny jeans (woman) = Does my ass look big in these?

And yes, ladies, it does. Even my scrawny assless-ass looks ginormous in skinny jeans. And you are guaranteed a muffin-top.

Sparkle jeans, sparkle belt = cowgirl.

Just sparkle jeans = I want to be a cowgirl but I’m really from New Jersey.

Skinny sparkle jeans with cropped top = look at me and be green with envy.

And yes, my 50-year-old boobs creeping out below that crop top are insanely jealous.

Bow tie = I have more confidence in my pinky than most men have in their… Camel-hair blazer (man) = I most definitely am not from Montezuma County.

Anything Coldwater Creek on a woman = I am old enough and wise enough to know that my ass looks humongous in skinny jeans.

Bolo = I am from Montezuma County and I have no idea how to tie a tie. OR

Bolo = I’d like everyone to think that I’m from the Southwest, although not Montezuma County. Maybe…Sedona.

Homecut capris and ditch boots = I work on a farm. I am up to my ankles in pig shit, cow shit, horse shit, irrigation, and carrots, all day long don’t want to carry it home in my cuffs.

Cut-offs and cowboy boots (woman) = I’m hoping the executive producers of a Dodge Ram commercial see me today. Maybe if I spend the day at the car wash getting my t-shirt wet, washing my Ford, I’ll get noticed.

Yes – I have witnessed this.

And yes, if I were an ad-exec, the gal would have been hired on the spot.

Vintage dresses = I am creative and individualistic and this is how I express myself.


I am a man wearing an orange polyester dress because I like to cross dress and I have an impeccable sense of style.

Short shorts with multiple pockets (tan or forest green) and hiking boots = I’d like to go hiking, but I’ve never actually done that.

Slightly longer shorts with just a couple of pockets and tattered running shoes = I actually am going for a hike.

Super short nylon shorts with no pockets and Chacos = Yeah, I’m doing that hiking thing, in the desert.

Uniform = I have a job where I don’t have to think independently

Woman in a suit = I’m an administrator, most likely at the school or hospital and I wish I could wear jeans to work because pantyhose are the bane of my existence. Especially because I haven’t shaved in a week.

Push-up bra (woman) = Please, please, please, notice them.

Jog bra = Please, please, please, don’t notice them. But have you checked out my legs?

Pajama Bottoms (teenager) = I’m still in high school and I’d like for you to think that I don’t care what others think of me, but I actually planned this outfit very carefully because I care, immensely, what others think of me and all of my friends are also wearing PJs because we texted each other last night and planned it.

Pajama Bottoms (men or women) = I might be doing meth.

Man in Carhartts = I work hard.

Woman in Carhartts = I work even harder.

Man in real shoes = my mother raised me with some class.

Man in an ironed shirt = my mother raised me with a lot of class.

Man in Dansko Clogs = I probably work in the medical field…

…and I’m hot.

Dirty t-shirt = I drink too much, OR, I have a baby, OR, they told me that if I left it in the hamper for long enough it would clean itself.

Inside-out t-shirt = I honestly don’t care what others think of me.


I just went for a run and blew my nose on my shirt so I had to turn it inside out. And yes, the snot is now against my skin, but at least you don’t have to look at it.

I’m going to wrap this up now because this is a vast amount of information for you to take in and I don’t want you to be overwhelmed.

This is a primer. Hang it in your closet and refer to it before you don your MuMu in the mornings.

I’ll leave you with this:

“When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’ what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.”

— Caitlin Moran “How to Be a Woman”

Suzanne Strazza is an award-winning columnist in Mancos, Colo.

From Suzanne Strazza.