I’ve been pondering furiously; why is there a near 100% correlation between using the phrase “I clean up real nice” and looking like a scrub (that happens to be wearing a suit)? After much deliberation, I’ve discovered the answer:
Imagine you have a lovely home that was designed and decorated with great care. You’ve furnished your house with beautiful pieces that compliment the architecture, color scheme, and overall aesthetic. You have invested time, energy, and money into building a domicile that you’re proud to inhabit.
Alas, life happens and you end up making a big ol’ mess. Magazines are stacked across your coffee table, dishes are piling up in the sink, and nothing is quite where it should be. Worst of all, you’ve scheduled guests for dinner tomorrow night.
Alright, time to hustle! A little spit shine and elbow grease returns your homestead to its former glory. You cleaned up, everything looks great, and you’re ready to entertain!
Alternative scenario: you live in the exact same place but with different furnishings. Rather than deliberately curating the items to fill said space, you’ve kept furniture from your last apartment, bought some random IKEA pieces when necessary, and haphazardly put stuff wherever made sense at the time.
Overall, it does what you need it to… Yet it’s clear that you haven’t invested in creating a home that you’re proud of. This is just a place you happen to live; it’s not great, but it’ll do.
As in the previous scenario, things get messy as you get busy. Messier, even. Unlike the hypothetical dream home, there isn’t a system in place for storage — stuff just goes wherever.
And then come the guests.
Again, you hustle to make the space ready: you toss the trash, wipe the tables, put away the dishes, and voila! Kind of.
Everything’s back to the baseline of “meh.”
Your friends will come over and you’ll all have a great time — which is arguably the most important thing — but your place won’t become suddenly become awesome just because you “cleaned up nice.” Cleaning up is the minimum expectation of a host, and while you should do it, that’s rather odd to boast about.
And there you have it: that’s why all these dudes who “clean up nice” still look disheveled even after their best last-minute efforts. “Cleaning up” just brings you back to the base state; if you’ve never invested time and effort to make something out of that, then your only two options are clean mediocrity and dirty mediocrity.
Now not all of us are in client-facing professions. In many important fields (plumbing, electricity, landscaping, etc), dressing well for the job follows a completely different framework than dressing well for social occasions. This is not a knock on those who haven’t prioritized their appearance, especially when it doesn’t impact their livelihoods. But no matter who you are, you deserve a look that does you justice — even if only for special occasions!
Curating an image that’s simultaneously impressive, sharp, and true to yourself can’t be done at the last-second. This takes some time and effort, but you are worth every bit of that investment!
Don’t settle for cleaning up.