When I was in junior high school, a teacher tasked my class to write persuasive essays arguing the proper way to hang toilet paper: half the class was assigned underhand, the other half overhand. And while I have strong feelings about underhand toilet paper, the point of the exercise (I hope?) was to demonstrate that some arguments have no rational bases, and we should recognize that just because we like something a certain way doesn’t mean that preference, for whatever reasons, extends to everyone else.
Take, for example, one of the faux-iest pas in everyday fashion: the sandal with a sock, something drilled into everyone’s heads by their peers never, ever to do. But now some fashion experts have said it’s ok, DNAinfo reports, driving others into such cognitive dissonance that would make a robot’s head explode. “Layering sandals with socks is the perfect way to transition seasons,” a stylist told the website. “It’s a practical solution for spring and fall weather dressing.” Because sometimes you just want to wear your summer clothes but weather won’t allow it, you see? The look has even been seen on runway models and store-window mannequins.
But for Chrissakes, you’ll never be able to pull of something as shibboleth-busting as socks with sandals without really meaning it. If you want to dress as such—or do some psychotic thing like hang your toilet paper in an overhand fashion—then just do it: do it because it’s what you want to do, because it makes sense to you, and you’ll be fine. As Richard Dorment wrote in Esquire several months ago:
…a certain behavior or belief might land a guy among a minority of his peers—he talks to himself every now and again; he watches The Notebook even though he has the whole of Netflix at his disposal. However, he doesn’t try to hide it. His friends give him shit about it, he laughs along with them, and a good majority of the time, people will chalk it up to him being him. If, like [Mitt] Romney, he tries to fake his way through it—if he tries to cover up what he really, actually likes or bluff his way through even the simplest interactions (“I met a guy yesterday, seven feet tall… I figured he had to be in sport, but he wasn’t in sport!”), what was merely unusual from a statistical point of view instead becomes something suspect. By owning up to the things that make us different, we can help control how they’re perceived.
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