Last weekend, I was at the mall with my mother when I saw a woman who looked familiar, though I could not really place her. It is sometimes difficult to remember someone “out of context.” The woman started coming toward us while smiling at me and my mother, which made me assume that she knew the two of us. The only thing I could remember about her is that she was someone who was always very helpful, perhaps in a medical or dental setting.
Two days later, I remembered who she was when I called my mother’s doctor’s office. She was one of the doctor’s nurses! I apologized for not being more friendly and right away she said “Oh, I looked like a mess, I didn’t realize I’d run into anyone I know, etc.” To me, she did not look like a mess. She was very casually dressed but looked younger and slimmer than she does when wearing her scrubs.
Still, it made me wonder: How can you expect not to run into someone you know when you go out? If you really feel like you look like a mess, do something about it before you leave the house. You never know who you are going to run into when you leave your house. It can be an old friend, a client, a prospective client, a future boyfriend, or your ex-spouse. You don’t need to get all dressed up to go to the mall or to the grocery store, but you do need to feel good about yourself in case you run into someone you know. It’s too late to apologize about the way you look when you run into someone, and it could reflect badly on your image.
In fact, one of my “Peggy’s Rules to a Better You” is “always dress as if you were going to run into your ex.” But don’t take my word for it. I recently met with a 75-year-old woman who is known for dressing elegantly—perfect hair, stylish glasses, red lipstick, and simple but chic and well-maintained outfits. She says that every day several people stop her to compliment her appearance. And while she appreciates the flattery, she herself is at a loss for why others don’t follow suit. According to her, it’s very easy to dress tastefully—she herself buys the same outfit in a variety of colors—and a little effort goes a long way. She doesn’t understand why people take the time to compliment her when they don’t bother to take the time to make themselves look smart.
Feeling inspired? The next time you leave the house—even if it’s just to head to the post office or the supermarket—give yourself a onceover in the mirror and ensure that you look presentable. If you think that you look like a mess, add a touch of makeup, fix your hair, or trade your baggy t-shirt for something more fitted and stylish. Casual? Fine. Sloppy? Never!