Practice

celebrate your style

"Script Studies" by the talented Christopher Craig. Click to see more awesome!
“Script Studies” by the talented Christopher Craig. Click to see more awesome!

Use Papyrus. Go to Jail. It’s the Law – graphic designers everywhere

A font says a lot about a person. There’s a particular reason that this blog features highlights in serif fonts. In case you’re new to the font game, “serif” means that the letters have little curlicues and bulges on the ends. A sans-serif font would have “cleaner” lines, something like this:

Notice how pre-formatted text just has lines, no ornaments.

I have nothing against sans-serif. I use for the body of the posts because it is proven to be easier to read on the screen. There’s a reason the iPhone default fonts are sans-serif, you know. But unlike your phone, which is designed to be digested quickly and efficiently, I don’t want you to read my words fast. I want your eyes to linger on every     turn       of          phrase and play around with rhythm and pacing and –

So I use a sans-serif font for the body…but not the easiest one. And I try to slow you down on occasion with a switch to serif.

 

This blog is also (perhaps impudently) in the tradition of introspective writers like Thoreau, Emerson, Twain…and so using an older typeface that hearkens back to the print days seems appropriate. That’s why the colors are earth tones (if you’re reading this on the site) and why I tend to avoid l33t speak or txt abbreviations even though OMG! that would be so much more convenient. I also tend to stick to a Chicago Manual of Style for my punctuation, though I confess to being overly fond of commas and often needing to delete a couple of extra “!!” when I’m making a point. It’s not that it’s hard to be an expressive writer – it’s that there’s so many tools (look at that, I was lazy, used italics for emphasis instead of letting the language do it for me). And don’t get me started on the crutch of conversational tone, parentheses, and ellipses…

Not Just Your Words. Choose Your Tone.

If you’re not convinced, just listen to the way your mind changes the tone of words when SUDDENLY THEY’RE ALL IN CAPS. IT’S KIND OF ANNOYING, REALLY, AND EVEN WORSE IF SOMEONE SUDDENLY BOLDS THEIR ALL-CAPS. IT’S LIKE THEY ARE SHOUTING DIRECTLY INTO YOUR EYES. Whew. That actually makes my fingers hurt to type. The point is that just as our font, word choice, and grammar set the tone of our written communication, our appearance, posture, enunciation, and more are constantly setting a tone. Certainly that applies to the interactions with others, but you’re fooling yourself if you think it doesn’t apply to yourself as well. I’ve written before about the power of talismans, but in a sense you are your own talisman. The time you take to prepare your appearance for whatever task you have ahead makes a difference in the way you act. It’s part of the whole “enclothed cognition” idea, as well as a reflection of some of the principles from sites like “Real Men, Real Style.” It’s fascinating stuff. Take a white coat, give it to one person and tell them it’s a painter’s smock. They will perform worse on mentally challenging tasks than someone given the same coat and told that it’s a medical doctor’s lab coat. For a more personal hack, you can try one of Antonio Centeno’s suggestions for improving your style: lay out your clothes the night before.

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Seems a small thing. But, OMG!

A simple thing, right? Even a little childish, perhaps. But as the Adulting Blog puts it:

Overall, planning your outfit ahead of time just shows how put-together you are (even if you’re not … yet), it eases your mind in the morning (because that’s one less thing you have to do before you walk out the door), and it can help you do feel more confident, more adult.

If you’re skeptical, I understand. I was too! Incredibly so. But I’m all for trying things out, and when I saw a valet for sale at a local thrift shop, I decided to give it a shot. That first morning, when I walked over to the corner of my bedroom where my shirt was hung, my pants draped over, my shoes laid out…it was transformative. Rather than grabbing and shuffling through my closet it was all right there, at my fingertips. I didn’t have to think about whether it matched, whether it suited my day’s activities – that was already done. So instead I had that much more brainpower to visualize the rest of the day, what needed to get done, how I was going to feel – in a sense, to psyche myself up. It was magnificent. It was selecting the right font for the right message I wanted to send that day. Right now, as I’m on an extended road trip, I’m trying to figure out how to do something similar while traveling. Maybe you want to try the whole “select your clothes” thing. Maybe you already do! Regardless of where you’re at, take a moment to be more aware of what kind of font people are reading on you – and that you’re reading on yourself. Let me know what you find!

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