Stand Out Without Sticking Out

Elegance is not about being noticed, it’s about being remembered.
Giorgio Armani
It’s easier to be remembered if you’re at least noticed.
Being Caballero
I have to admit that I am an avid people watcher. No, that’s not a nice way to say creepy stalker. It means that I love the crowded cityscape, as it allows me the benefit of watching the social interactions of people, their urban behavior, and watching the city as a vibrant ecosystem worthy of any wilderness setting. As the costs of parking and the never ending traffic jams have turned me into a diehard Metro user, here’s where I get my daily fill of this fascinating environment.

As soon as the metro reaches on of the business center nodes along its route, you become witness to one of the most amusing spectacles of the modern city, the migration of the navy/dark grey sea. As the subway cart comes to a stop, an army of almost identical men all stand in unison and hurriedly move towards the stations exit, all dressed in either a Navy Blue jacket and khaki pants or a dark grey suit with a white shirt. Sure, you see that minor splash of color within a tie or a pocket square, the reality is that it gets lost within the unison of monotone patterns of the semi-sentient mass. These same men are left wondering why they feel so insignificant within the expansiveness of the urban crowd.

Well, maybe it’s because they CHOSE to get lost in a crowd.

Have you noticed when the main protagonist within a movie walks within a crowd, yet you can still single him out? How is this done? It’s a simple artistic trick that has been done across history. When you have a repetitive pattern, insert something different, something that breaks the monotony. By its own, that singular element might not be much. It might even be absolutely boring. Yet when you drop it within a repetitive pattern, it becomes the exception.
Suddenly, that simple change stands out!

Am I saying that standing out is important? Only when you want to stand out. You are sitting in a room with 4 other gentlemen, competing for the same position. Do you really want to be seen like just another contender? You might have the best pitch, but if the person see’s you as just another candidate, it might be lost before you even start.

Does that mean you should pull out your loudest Hawaiian shirt and those pants that look like you were assaulted by a cartoon unicorn? No. You want to stand out, not scare them away or become their source of comedic material for the next week. It’s all about being different enough to be you. Work within what works, but within your own flair.

Instead of wearing a navy blue suit, try light gray, or tan, or basically any other color as a base tone. Instead of using the tie as your color accent, use your shirt and go for a toned down tie. Instead of khaki’s, get something in another color…Any color. In a society that has lost its use of hats, get a flip cap or a fedora. Would Indiana Jones be as memorable without his hat?

It’s not about standing out simply to stand out. It’s about standing out to show the world you are more than another faceless drone plodding along in a faceless existence. Stop hiding your existence behind the comfort of the crowd. When you stop hiding behind the wall of anonymity, life can find you.

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