This post is not about faking it to fit in or suggesting one gets the Pygmalion treatment, but looking like you have more money than you actually do can help you out from time to time. Think job interviews, getting better service (pretty much anywhere), or meeting professionals like your kid’s teacher or networking at a business conference. There are a few simple things that set a person apart (at least as far as first impressions go) and can get you a little further in certain situations.
1) Grooming: Shaved face, clean and tidy hair, well-kept nails (no professional manicure necessary), and minimal make-up are important details that state elegance without trying too hard. Clean, filed fingernails don’t even need polish to look polished. A good haircut goes a long way, so look for specials and discounts at a salon, or see if you can find students. Now’s not the time to experiment (if you’re going to an interview, for example). Just get a classic cut that works for you. If you wear perfume, LESS IS MORE. A dab on the wrist and jaw is all you need. If someone can smell you when you walk in the room, it’s too much. Take care of your teeth and skin as well as you can afford. You don’t need expensive stuff. Most people can just use simple soap and water, and a decent moisturizer (try olive oil!). If your teeth need a little brightening, invest in a toothpaste and use it (they really work) or try a little peroxide.
2) Style: Classic and understated, keep an eye open for items at your local thrift shop that are high quality and not trendy. Though sporting all the latest styles does take money, spending once on a handbag or blazer that is well-made and timeless is a better investment, and if you snag one second-hand, all the better.
3) Demeanour: Speak clearly and slowly (if you have a tendency to chatter quickly), make eye contact, look relaxed (if possible). Confidence goes a long way in any situation. Avoid slang, off-colour jokes, and definitely don’t talk about money. People who don’t have it, by necessity, often obsess over it. People who do have it, generally, don’t make a big deal out of it.
Of course, it’s up to you to put on this show. Sadly, more affluent people do get treated differently than lower-income folks and there’s a great deal of stigma around issues of poverty. No one should have to feel like they can’t be themselves, so sport that neon orange nail polish and feel free to be comfortable in your own skin. You might not blend in, but that could work for you too.