First impressions matter. It’s how we carry ourselves, the confidence we have, and, yes, it’s often what we wear that determines what people think of us and how they react to our message or what we represent.
It’s why the President dresses in suits and a power tie and Miss America doesn’t go onstage in sweats. It’s why a bride wears that white gown or a pall bearer dresses in black. It’s why every institutional band or choir, sports team, fast food restaurant, or service group has a uniform standard. It’s also why, for a job interview or a first date, you dress to impress.
We dress for occasions.
We sometimes dress for ourselves.
We also dress for others.
The Elder is certain when women get together, whether it is a Bible study, book club, or a Ladies Night Out, they dress to impress each other. He teases me that we ante-up our game. I used to laugh but now I think, Maybe he’s right.
Our church broadcast goes out to around 10-11,000 people a weekend at nine church locations, prison, and to our .TV and online people. My main job each weekend is to help our pastors look the very best they can so there are no visual distractions for the Gospel message they are preaching. This means everything from de-linting and de-wrinkling clothes, to hair and color correction/powder for skin. I also help put together the outfits our preachers wear.
When someone is considering church for the very first time, especially online, we may only get a split-second opportunity. That’s why the first thing they SEE matters. They’re going to get God’s Word and worship, but if they don’t stick around long enough because the person onscreen doesn’t look #relevant, that’s an opportunity lost for the Kingdom.
And here’s another thing: We’re not the only church doing it. Others like Elevation Church and Life.Church have full-time paid staff teams as clothing stylists, hair and makeup artists, and handlers for their pastors and have been doing it for years. Hillsong United people are not even allowed onstage without going through the Creative Moments (hair and makeup) Ministry.
As a stylist, it’s so important not to “costume” (unless you are doing it for musicals or plays!). What I am going for is the very best iteration of the person I am dressing, keeping with their personality and age. It’s no good putting a 50-year old in something so trendy that only a 20-year-old would wear or dressing “Country” with a man who has never set foot on a farm. That would be INAUTHENTIC. And that’s the last thing we want onstage.
Oftentimes styling is undoing ingrained negative thoughts or ways a person thinks about her/himself that were planted long ago. As we move forward through the process, we often challenge lies that have been around a long time in their heads. As we all know from personal experience, there’s a lot of psychology that goes on in any dressing room.
Most big and tall (B&T) guys wear clothes that are WAY too big for them because they’ve given up on finding the right sizes. Or they really think they are that big.
It’s such a shock when I put a B&T guy in a “Slim” cut for the first time. They sometimes won’t even try the item on to start. They can’t believe it when it fits perfectly and they look terrific. That makes me smile.
Maybe you’re a B&T or you’re married to someone who is. Read on, Friend.
So what am I analyzing when I dress B&T men (or any man for that matter)? Something that is unique is that they have some real restrictions when it comes to fit, sizes, and style. Most companies don’t tailor for men over 6’2 or have shoes bigger than size 13. I almost always have to order online for long inseams (34 inch plus) and Tall sizes.
For one of my pastors, we have narrowed down sizes really well in a certain brand family. Now, it took ordering $900 worth of merchandise in varying sizes and returning most of it to find the right sizes and fits. It was a pain—ask any man if he enjoys trying on clothes, right? Heck, I don’t like trying on clothes! But the hard initial work was worth it in the end. I was proud that he committed to it because it is paying massive dividends presently!
I’m digging the larger collars that have been popular for a few years now for my guys. I love a good English Premier League spread button downs on a bigger man. It “thins” out the neck by better defining the space of shoulder-neck-shoulder.
Skinny collars, ties and jeans might rock on skinny guys but it is out of proportion with a bigger guy’s features. It’s like watching a big man riding a small bike at a circus. Whether you are male or female, a great look is all about proportion.
Let’s talk about that for a second.
Proportion. In math, it’s about comparative relation between two things or magnitudes as to size, quantity, number…it’s the ratio. As a verb, it’s when you adjust or regulate something so that it has a particular or suitable relationship to something else.
What happens on a B&T guy is that sometimes the proportions are off. Instead of having wide shoulders and a trim waist, they might be wider around the waist than they are tall. There are many ways to disguise this. (See this article for dressing B&T Men HERE.)
Just because a man is B&T doesn’t mean he can’t look dapper. Even Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft looked totally presidential though they were a tiny bit portly!
Here are some basic hints for dressing B&T men:
~Excellent tailoring goes a L-O-N-G way.
~Consider clothing sets in complimentary, darker, monotone colors. (though my new fav is all-gray)
~Wear flat front pants tailored to the correct length based on the shoes or boots worn.
~Make as many long, straight lines as possible (which is why a great blazer can be a B&T man’s best friend!)
~Large, busy prints are not a B&T man’s friend. They overwhelm people.
~Fatter ties are your friend. Skinnies are a no-go.
~Shirts need to be long enough to cover all parts of you (no one wants to see skin!) but not too long. The distance from the waist to the feet has to be more than from the shoulder to the waist, otherwise you’ll look blocky, like a tree.
~Don’t tuck shirts tightly if your belly sticks out past your belt. (No matter what your momma told you!) That’s just bad press, Brother.
~Structure*Structure*Structure. Fabrics matter a ton here as do styles. B&T people (or almost anyone for that matter!) shouldn’t wear flimsy, formless, cheap-looking clothing.
~Have a few great watches (big ones are boss!) and excellent shoes—these never go out of style and your size will rarely ever change!
Ultimately, first impressions really do matter. When you walk into a room, you want “command presence” for people to think, “That guy has something to say and I want to listen!”
And guess what? When you’re a pastor, you DO! You have the most edifying, glorious, life-saving news that ANYONE can give: The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just ask the sharp-dressed Alexander Campbell.