From the February 1935 issue of Men’s Wear magazine:
You Can NOT Sell Clothes!
If You Are Poorly Dressed
by Sidney J. White
The well-known story of the bus driver who took a ride on his day off contains a pointed moral for retail clothing salesmen, for that legendary gentleman was not afraid to use his own wares.
One of the most futile figures imaginable is that of the men’s clothing salesmen who fails to practice what he preaches. How any man can hope to convince others of the desirability of dressing smartly, while he is neglectful of his own appearance, is difficult to understand. The most pervasive arguments, the soundest sales-talks, must fail in their effect unless the salesman is a living example of the wisdom of wearing good clothing.
The really successful salesman knows that his appearance is his most important asset. His smart suit, his attractive shirt and tie, the general neatness of his whole turn-out, mark him as a man who believes in the power of clothing to help him. He has confidence in himself, for he knows there are no flaws in his appearance. It is an undeniable fact that people have more confidence in a man who looks successful, and the wise clothing salesman makes use of this by dressing the part. It is not an accident that the men who have achieved the greatest success in the selling of men’s apparel are likewise the best dressed.
There are several reasons why you–a clothing salesman–should be your own best customer. First, because a fresh, new garment will give you an actual “lift.” You’ll feel better if you look better. Put on a new tie, or a new shirt–you’ll be better able to face your customers.
Secondly, your sales talk will sound more convincing and sincere if your appearance shows that you practice your own gospel of dressing well. The customer will believe your statements because he can see that you “take your own medicine before prescribing for others.”
Thirdly, the imitative instinct is strong in everyone. “Give me a suit like the one you’re wearing” is not an uncommon request in some stores whose sales force is well-groomed. High-style clothing is frequently easily sold by the man who wears it himself.
Fourthly, you provide a living display window for your own merchandise. Wherever you go, the public can see what attractive clothing you sell. Your new suit often provides an opening in casual conversation whereby you can interest a man in your wares. Many a new customer has been won by the salesman whose appearance caused favorable comment among chance acquaintances.
If you want to be an outstanding success in your store, dress as though you had already reached the topmost heights. Always have a smart suit, neatly pressed, to start the day. Choose your accessories carefully. Your shirt and tie should complement your suit and not look as though they were added to your ensemble as an afterthought. A wide variety of neckwear will enable you to give a little tone to your appearance each day.
Follow the new style trends, for it is by selling style merchandise that you make your living. If men bought clothing merely to fill the physical need of covering their bodies, your sales would be few and far between. Don’t wait for a new style to become a fad before adopting it yourself. Be one of the leaders–your occupation demands it.
It isn’t vanity or extravagance that causes the successful salesman to devote time and money to the problem of his appearance. It’s sound common sense. Every penny you put into new clothing for yourself is an investment which yields rich dividends in increased sales and earnings. Don’t let your appearance “send you to bat wtih two strikes on you.” Make your clothing help you make more sales. You’ll find that all the roads to successfull selling will be wide open to you if you always remember to dress up — dress up — DRESS UP!