There's an old saying that "clothes make the man." I've found that, many times in my life, that's been the case, if only in my own mind.
I've often attempted to re-invent myself through what I wear. I don't know whether that's because I wanted to stand out or because I felt my personality wasn't enough of a draw without some snazzy threads to get attention, but it is what it is.
In high school, I wore a long, black trenchcoat - long before it became symbolic of something much more sinister in the Columbine High School tragedy. I thought it made me look cool, which is something I always longed to be, but never quite seemed to achieve.
In the years after I graduated, I often wore a cowboy hat and boots, to accompany my musical taste. My then-girlfriend bought me the hat for an obscene amount of money as a birthday present, and you can't have a cowboy hat without boots. So I shelled out my own money, in my continued search for my own identity.
A few years and several leather jackets later, I've found myself in the same situation all over again. When I'm not working, I can often be found in loud Hawaiian shirts, sandals and another little gem I recently added to my wardrobe.
This time, the culprit is a hat - one of those newsboy-type hats young boys in the old days would wear as they yelled out "Extra, extra, read all about it!" Aside from the fact that the hat is one of a select few that will actually fit my abnormally large cranium, when I put the hat on for the first time, I found it to be a completely different look from anything I'd ever worn before.
Since then, I've been utterly addicted to that hat. I don't wear it at work, because I don't want to be perceived as unprofessional or draw undue attention to myself. But in the few short weeks I've owned that thing, I've become very attached to it.
The question in my mind now is, why? What is it about a hat or a jacket or a pair of boots that transforms my opinion of myself so much? I'm the same person I always was, and I don't act differently with the cool hat than I did when I wore a restaurant uniform in my college days.
I feel different, though. Just as that trenchcoat and those leather jackets did for me in my younger days, the hat gives me a confidence boost.
I guess the real question I should be asking myself is this: if what I wear is enough to boost my self-confidence, what does that say about my opinion of myself?
Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.