Sorry, y'all, let's try this one again. I've made some edits!
One time, I was on the swim team. I learned a lot from swimming. I gained better balance and slightly better coordination from it. I also learned about the importance of the uniform.
You see, the swim team had mostly middle class and upper middle class kids from a few neighborhoods in my hometown. Most of the kids grew up together and had been friends for a long time. This being the middle school/high school years everyone dressed the same.
For the girls this meant the footwear was Ugg boots in the winter, and Old Navy or Abercrombie flip flops in the summer. For tops in was something from Abercrombie, Old Navy, American Eagle or Pacsun. The shirts usually had a tank top or cami under them. Jeans were either Abercrombie or American Eagle if you were cool and Old Navy if your parents didn't want to pay $50 per pair of jeans.
If you were super cool you had a name brand purse, like one from Juicy Couture, Dooney and Burke, or Coach. If you were less cool (your parents had better things to do) then your purse was from Walmart. Hand me downs were only cool if they were vintage, and they were never called hand me downs.
I was an uncool kid.
I didn't wear any of these things for the first couple of the years that I swam. My clothes came from Old Navy or Walmart, and that suited me fine. I thought that Ugg boots were stupid (they aren't even water proof!) I would have rather spent $50 on books or something. The purse I carried was really just an extension of my huge backpack and was totally not cool.
The Matriarch saw what was happening, (in fact she might be a wizard.) She saw that there was totally a group of girls that wouldn't talk to me despite the fact that we had known each other for two years or more.
She bought me a pair of Ugg boots when they went on sale at Christmas. She dragged me to the store to buy a pair of non-Walmart jeans. We went to Abercrombie and Fitch, which by the way, Dr. Capt. Daddy once described as bush wacking through a smelly jungle club. (It's not exactly sensory friendly.)
Exactly 100 exasperated teenaged sighs later I had what came to be known at the house as a uniform. The uniform was clothes that made me fit in rather than stand out. I had clothes that looked more or less like my peers along with a purse and boots to match. I thought The Matriarch was crazy and that this was a stupid idea. Surely we lived in a world where I would be judged by the content of my character and not on the label of my jeans.
We do not.
I wore the whole shebang one day to swim practice.
People who had not said so much as three words to me the whole time I'd been swimming were talking to me. They wanted me to have a locker next to theirs. They wanted me to swim in their lane.
It was totally weird.
People treated me differently because I was wearing different clothes. What is even weirder is that it is quantifiable.I wore my normal clothes one day to swim practice and counted the number of people who talked to me. The next day I wore the uniform and counted. More people talked to me when I wore the uniform than when I wore my sweat shirt and jeans.
The same thing remains true to this day. When I went to college, the uniform was different. I wore the same uniform Id worn in high school, and instead of fitting in I stood out more. Let me illustrate.
Paris, when we met, had shaved half of her head and wore the other half short. She wore combat boots and dresses that came from second hand shops. She didn't own a purse. We looked super different.
So our hippie campus has no less than three anarchist groups. They are super interested in taking down the man or something. Paris regularly got asked if she belonged to an anarchist group or if she would be interested in joining one.
Never once in the three years that I lived and attended hippie college did I get asked if wanted to join an anarchist group. (which is totally fine by me)
The point is that with a shaved head and combat boots Paris looked more like she belonged to an anarchist group than I did. In fact, my uniform was so wrong that often got looked at as though I was lost and had wandered onto campus by mistake.
Again, I did the science to it. I observed what people in campus wore, then bought it and wore it to class. I got the same results, more people talked to me when I wore a plaid shirt and traded my name brand purse for something less showy.
Shortly after I conducted the first experiment,I asked The Matriarch why people talked to me because I had Ugg boots.
It's because those clothes make you less scary to them. Wearing those boots makes you One Of Them. It says that you share the same interests as they do. If you are the same as they are you can't be threatening to them. I like to think that my clothes are like keys, if you have the right ones, you are accepted socially. Learning how to dress allows you to pass more or less as a NT.