Why are most men so afraid of being overdressed?

Why do so many men seem to have a fear of being overdressed? Being underdressed is far worse and much harder to escape. Don’t be afraid to show other people that you have made an effort to look good. 

You are standing in front of the mirror. You feel great. Your new outfit makes you look like a million dollars. You leave the house, still feeling your best. You arrive at the party – only to find that you are the best-dressed man in the room. In fact, it looks like you are the only man in the room having put some effort into how you look.

Is this a problem? No!

Unless you are wearing your tuxedo to a barbecue party, you do not have a problem. Being underdressed is a far bigger issue, this is also much more difficult to solve.


[bctt tweet=”Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
– Mark Twain”]


I would argue that being underdressed – and not care about it, or even noticing it, is starting to become a real issue in the sense that we are slowly devaluating all of life’s occasions. I have lost count of the number of weddings, funerals, and dinner-parties where one or more men (most of the underdressed people are men) are dressed in a way that shows that they don’t care.

It saddens me to see that some people do not find it worth their effort to mark special occasions by dressing differently than what they would do on an evening at home in front of the TV.


It’s all abot the details. (Picture: bigstockphoto.com)


Dress for the role you want

Let me give you two examples from my life:

At a young age, I co-founded a company together with another guy. Some months into the business we only had a crappy office, nothing to show the type of high-end clients we wanted to attract. At the time I use to frequent a particular restaurant. I used it both as a place to meet clients and to go out with friends. I was on first names with most of the staff.

After some hard work, I managed to get a real high-end client interested. I arranged a meeting at the restaurant and requested a somewhat undisturbed table. The only thing out of the ordinary was that I dressed two notch sharper the I usually did.

The meeting started like most other meetings in this place. Halfway through our meal, my favorite waiter showed up. Somewhat surprised to see my sharp attire, he greeted me with the words “Oh, hello boss” Suffice to say that my prospective client thought that I owned the place and dismissed me when I tried to explain otherwise. We signed the contract the next day.

“It takes confidence being the best-dressed man in the room.”
– Unknown


It pays to dress professionally

Earlier this year, I visited Tokyo and Kyoto with my wife. Being me, I carried two cameras when we were going to the famous Fushimi-Inari Shrine in Kyoto.

As I wrote in an earlier blog post,  The Shinto wedding, I practically walked right into a Shinto wedding. I was carrying my Canon EOS 70D camera with a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 lens – a big and bulky configuration. I was wearing my  SCOTTeVEST Revolution jacket and a pair of outdoor pants, looking more like a professional photographer than a tourist.

Shinto wedding
A Shinto wedding in Kyoto, Japan. (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)

Around me, the tourists started to snap pictures with their cell phones and cameras. The temple guards were ushering people away to make room for the wedding procession. Having a good zoom lens, I positioned myself a good distance in front of the procession and starting to take pictures. I figured that I would have plenty of time before the guards started to approach me.

As I was shooting away, I tried to look out for the guards from the corner of my eye. The seconds passed, and I could sense people moving away from the place I was standing, but I did not see the guards.

When I glanced up from my camera, I saw that the guard was not only leaving me alone, they were making space for me to move so that I could follow the procession. The thought I was a professional photographer, hired in for the occasion.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that people who do not know you will most often treat you according to how you dress and act. If you act and dress like a gentleman, people will treat you like a gentleman. If you act and dress like an ordinary Joe, the best you can expect is being treated as an ordinary Joe.


What to do if you are overdressed?

It is far easier to solve the issue of being overdressed than being underdressed. Unless you change, the issue of being underdressed is unsolvable. If you find that you feel overdressed, you basically have two choices. You can dress down, or you can choose to be the best-dressed man in the room.

If you show up in a suit, and everyone else is wearing slacks and a shirt, all you have to do is to ditch the suit jacket. If nobody else is wearing a tie, you can remove your own tie.

Style is never out of fashion. (Picture: stocksnap.io)

Show people that you care

When someone invites you to a party, they generally invest both time and money and do their best so that you will have a good time. The house is clean and tidy. The food and snacks are of high quality and presented in a delicate way. Why not show a little appreciation by presenting yourself in clean, good looking, well fitting clothes?

My personal experience is that 99.9% of the time, being a bit overdressed is a positive experience. People regularly compliment me for always being well dressed, some people even pull me aside and ask for advice on how to dress or what to look for when buying a new suit. At parties, I’m sometimes told by the hostess that they appreciate having guests who have made an effort to look good.

Looking good does not need to be expensive, nor does it have to be complicated. Read my blog post How to look stylish – 13 tips to find out more.



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