People would flock to me and say things like, “you look like a schizophrenic” or “are your parents dead?” Of course neither of these things were true but there was good reason to assume otherwise: I had very unsightly faded jeans, a plethora of rug-like sweater vests, and hair that I spent well over a year growing (but not grooming). In hindsight, I’m sure most adults concluded that puberty had raddled my brain too hard. However, I would contend that putting all efforts into looking like an idiot is a perfectly reasonable response to the horrible trappings of high school. So then what changed?
I suppose the most conspicuous answer would be: I grew up. To be more elaborate though: over a long period of time I gradually came to realize that there are profound social implications involved in dressing like a mad man. The first impression is more important to us humans than we would like to admit. Indeed, there are potential employers, friends, colleagues, and, most crucial, members of the opposite sex, that will dismiss you on the grounds that you look homeless.
So, although there are benefits to not dressing badly, it is more difficult to weigh the uses of dressing well. Certainly if people judge you for underdressing, they will just as well judge you for overdressing. It is not hard to assume that the young man who wears a tie to public school is a narcissist--and in turn probably exhibits the same sort of madness as the young man who deliberately dresses like a hobo. Perhaps it is best to endeavor towards normality then.
For all intensive purposes--and to avoid that tedious conversation of what “normal” actually means--we shall say the norm refers to the behavior of the majority in a given context. Then by this definition, it is reasonable to dress like a vagabond well in the company of vagabonds, to dress like a gentlemen when with gentlemen, and to dress bland to avoid thinking about such silly and trivial things.
(Of course, we overgeneralize a bit. Obviously every minute sub-culture has its own dress code that different individuals will react to differently. However, I would argue that most of these groups would react in a similar fashion (pun very much intended) to the dress of the vagabond and the gentlemen. And so, these things are worth exploring.)
W ell then, you ask, why would any reasonable person go out of their way to present themselves as a gentlemen when it seems far easier to “blend in.” For starters, no one ever said the life of the gentlemen is an easy one. It is a physically and mentally strenuous existence. The gentlemen must be capable of simultaneously flying hot air balloons through treacherous conditions whilst calmly sipping tea, to articulate witty and ironic remarks upon defeating an arch-nemesis (ideally near a volcano crater), to carry an intelligent conversation in the midst of a duel, and, of course, to dress finely.
I shouldn't have to explain why you should have interest in dueling insane fascists over boiling magma as Princess Yoko screams for your safety. The benefits of such behavior are self-evident.
Let us summarize the ups and downs of dressing to the extremes then. The attire of a homeless man, or some other totally socially unacceptable fellow, leads to mostly negative assumptions about a person. The attire of the gentlemen is more likely to do the opposite... save the instances when people assume you are an over materialistic bigot.
If nothing else, let us assume that your choice in dress is akin to the way you choose to be perceived. Ideally, we would like to live in a world where the judgments of others are non-existent but, sadly, this is not the case. Therefore, it becomes important for us to make decisions about what we wear.