Mark Twain famously said, “Clothes make the man.” For a figure of literary genius, I would argue that this is a quote he got terribly wrong. The man – or woman – makes the clothes. Style is an outlet of self, a way that we exude our distinctive personalities.
But it goes even deeper than that. It’s the staples that truly give insight into who we are. When you get dressed in the morning, what are the things that you automatically reach for? Why do you need those items with you everyday? What do they say about you?
I was thinking about these questions the other day, while I reached for the pile of jewelry that’s always waiting next to my bedside table when I wake up. For me, the small things that you’ll never see me without are relatively standard – a necklace, a bracelet, and a pair of earrings. The rings were gifts from family members, the necklace was discovered when going through my grandmother’s old costume box. The earrings were a $5 gag gift from my partner – and all of these things feel like a part of my skin, of who I am.
But other people have whole spectrum of accessories that serve as extensions of their identity. A friend will never leave the house without sliding bright red lipstick over her lips; another adds one of her many silk scarves to very ensemble she puts together; yet another doesn’t leave the house without his watch, even though it hasn’t worked in years. Be it subtle accessories or bold statement pieces, it seems that everyone has something that is iconic of their distinctive personality.
These “small things” make big impressions. When you’re in a rush and don’t have time to put together a polished outfit, just count on your distinctive staples. They’re the metaphorical icing on the cake, adding a special spark of charisma to any ensemble. It’s sort of like a tattoo that you can take on or off at will. Twain might think that “clothes make the man,” but it seems quite apparent that, in fact, he got it all wrong.