Note: We're turning over the bloggy keys to Roger Pseudonym as a temporary guest blogger. Roger is a pro writer, but isn't anyone working on the site; his views and experiences are his, not ours, he's not speaking for the site, etc. He's convinced us he has some things to say to certain folks that are useful to say. You can read more about Roger in the 'about' bits. He's got more truthy things to say to nerds, continuing with...
You catch more flies by smelling bad
Apr 3, 2016 [permalink]
What you wear under your clothes is at least as important as the clothes themselves, so make it a point to bathe and shave daily, take care of your teeth (bad breath will kill your cred faster than leprosy and Tourette's combined), use deodorant, sit up straight, and generally keep yourself tidy. A lazy Sunday is all well and fine, but if you plan to slink from your Fortress of Solitude and face the real world, you never know who you're going to run into. Looking and smelling like a homeless person is not going to help you, ever.
I shouldn't have to say any of this; for most people it's so basic it doesn't get discussed at all, past about the fourth grade. But I see nerds all the time who fail this test, who stink and slouch and look like they slept in a hedge, are unpleasant to stand next to and embarrassing to be seen with, and nobody ever seems to tell them. They get that they're unpopular, but they don't know why. So, no offense, but even the painfully obvious is going to get discussed here, because some of you out there actually need to hear it. Bathe, Oscar!
On a related note, you also need to get your hair cut on a regular basis. Seriously, put a recurring event in your Outlook calendar so you don't forget. Your hairstyle is an important part of your overall look, and you want to maintain it at least as well as your anal-retentive neighbor maintains his lawn. If you let it go too long, then you'll not only look unkempt, but when you finally do get it cut the sudden change in length and style will be a lot more noticeable, drawing attention to the fact. The only exception I can think of is if you're putting in a ton of overtime at work, in which case "I don't have time for a haircut!" is an acceptable—even cred-enhancing—thing to say.
For men, short hair is easier to care for but needs more frequent maintenance. Long hair can make men look kind of freaky, but some women find it artistic and sexy, and if it fits with your overall personality then yeah, go for it. But wash and condition it every day, do not tie it back in a pony tail, topknot, bun, or any kind of shit like that, and don't lean over and drag it in other people's food. I've seen this happen, and it's way gross.
For women, I'll advise against short hair unless you're going to do something really interesting with it. Long hair is going to be more attractive with less effort, and I assume that has some rational appeal for you. As for barrettes, scrunchies, headbands, etc., these things are tricky to get right, so unless you have help I would steer clear. Just use a curling iron or something to give your head some character.
What about hair color? There are lots of options these days, not just for women, and yes, blondes really do have more fun, but brunettes are perceived as more intelligent and more mature, and redheads as more passionate. Really! Daring colors like pink and blue might be fine if you work at Piercing Pagoda or Orange County Choppers, but in most office and lab environments you should probably hold these to a highlight or two along the sides.
As for graying or thinning hair, you're never too young to start worrying about it. Most women cover up their gray without thinking twice, but men have a harder choice to make. When you get to that certain age, gray hair might lend an air of authority, particularly if you're in a senior tech position or angling to move there, but for junior dudes losing their hair or its melanin prematurely, I tend to think the gray (or the male pattern baldness) makes you look like you've been left behind. I started going gray in my mid-20s, and several of my friends started going bald, so I know what I'm talking about here; a hair-challenged engineer is either an overpriced has-been whose edge is slowly blunting, a coward who never grabbed for the brass ring, or else a clod who tried but couldn't reach it. I'm not saying any of these things are true, but if they look true you're screwed anyway, so why risk it? Rogaine and Just For Men are effective and cheap, and no one has to know. And hey, the business guys are doing it too, so even if they find out, they're not likely to care.
Or you could go the other way and bleach out your gray. Weirdly, it's only the salt-and-pepper look (or the thinning-but-combed-over look) that makes you seem old; for some reason, a full head of hair that's uniformly white or platinum gives a much younger, more vigorous impression. So does shaving the whole pate, which is just about the only hair option that's allowable for men but not women. Go figure.
Facial hair? Sure. Beards and moustaches can be trimmed into countless styles that not only express your personality, but also make it clear that yes, you do actually have a personality. You don't want to be too off-the-wall here (that Ming the Merciless or reverse-Hitler will get you beaten up), but the main thing is to look like you've made an effort. Even three-day stubble can be cleaned up around the edges to make a rugged-yet-classy impression.
If you're a woman, shave or wax your legs and armpits, please. The only thing less appealing than a hairy hippie chick who knows better is a hairy nerdy chick who doesn't. Smooth nerdy chicks are kinda hot, though. How smooth? Well, what you do with your bikini zone depends on who's going to see it and why, but the prevailing philosophy these days seems to be that less is more. Look up "landing strip" for guidance here, or take a peek at the girls in Playboy to see what I'm talking about. You should probably try to look (ahem!) like an adult, but the one absolute rule here is that nothing should peek past the edges of an actual bikini. Really. Seriously.
On a related subject, you may be surprised what a difference perfume and cologne can make in your life. You don't want to be that receptionist who sits all day in a Bhopal cloud of toxic sandalwood vapor, but a splash of after shave, a dab of cologne and a strategic spritz of body spray can add that hard-to-define finishing touch that people really respond to. We're still animals, you know.
Now, you didn't hear this from me, but you might even consider doctoring your scent with synthetic pheromones from the Athena Institute. This cocktail was invented by actual scientists from actual MIT, and if used correctly it's clinically, double-blindedly proven to get you 40% more sex than you'd otherwise receive. Of course, 1.4 times zero is still zero, so if you got no skills this stuff won't help, but presumably you do carry some level of charm and appeal and have some chance of scoring with the opposite sex (or the same sex, if that's your thing). If so, why not stack the deck at least slightly in your favor?
And the benefits may not just be sexual. If you believe the Athena scientists (who are fellow nerds, after all), pheromones are odorless to the conscious parts of our brains but strongly active in the limbic system, sending machine-level signals about how strong, aggressive, confident, dangerous, and successful we are. It's a cheap trick (well, a hundred-dollars-a-bottle trick), but it might just attract/annoy/unsettle the business guys and gals who (like it or not) control your destiny. OK, most of the time they're not getting close enough to smell your neck, but when you find yourself crammed into a taxi or an airplane seat or an insufficiently air-conditioned conference room, would you rather smell like Comic Book Guy or like some weirdly intriguing man of mystery?
If you do use pheromones, though, just don't tell anyone you're hacking the most intimate corners of their brains, or they may compensate by being extra-super-duper unimpressed.