You may have heard the old saying, “When you look good, you feel good.” There’s also a more recent maxim along the same lines—as a matter of fact, I just made it up: “When you look good, you graph good.” The latter has less to do with a heightened sense of confidence and more to do with the benefits of dressing in a way consistent with your environment (i.e., look the part). In many settings being conspicuous puts the autograph collector at a disadvantage.
Now I’m not suggesting you leave your ball cap at home when you’re hanging over the railing along the first base line. But wearing your game day wardrobe outside a five-star hotel is a surefire way to attract increased attention of security and put your graphing opportunities at risk (would my story about meeting Shaq in the lobby of the Four Seasons have the same ending if I was dressed casually?). Your goal should be to appear like just another guest and draw no attention before you make your request.
Another perspective to consider is that of the celebrity. We all make snap judgments on people and the way they dress plays a role in our prejudice. I’m reminded of the time I approached Seth McFarlane on the set of Ted. He did a double-take when I asked him for an autograph.
“You want my autograph?” he said. “Um, ok. I thought you were with the movie and had a question.”
I’m not suggesting you graph in a three-piece suit, just look the part. In this case, Seth thought I was just another production assistant and it got me an autograph before I could be shuttled off by an actual PA.
Consider the dapper gentlemen pictured below. Might a ballplayer take a different route or put a phone to his ear if he noticed a group of guys that looked like our friend on the right? Would the young man on the left have an easier time getting a temperamental signer to stop and acknowledge him? I would contend the answers to both questions are yes. Without exception? No. But certainly more likely.
Does dressing in a t-shirt and jeans mean you’ll miss out on a ton of graphing opportunities? Of course not, but think about how your appearance might affect the interactions you have (or don’t have) with those people who can affect your chances.
Do you consider what to wear depending on where you’re getting autographs? What do you think of my recommendations?