How to Act and Look Smart

Three Parts:Presenting Yourself in a Smart MannerBuffing Up Your KnowledgeInteracting with Others

You only get one chance for a first impression. Coming across as sloppy and ditzy can give people the impression that you aren't as smart as you really are. Look smart by choosing clean, well-fitting clothes that match the occasion; act smart by building your knowledge base, commenting only on topics you're knowledgeable about, and asking insightful questions that demonstrate your willingness to learn. Acting and looking smart will leave people with a positive impression of you, and may open opportunities both socially and professionally.

Part 1
Presenting Yourself in a Smart Manner

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    Take a few days or weeks to look at yourself and how you present yourself to others. You know your friends like you but how are you seen by your boss, your teachers or strangers on the street? Look at your physical appearance and also your mental take on things.
    • Take a digital photo of yourself each day in your different outfits.
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    Evaluate your clothes. Start adding smart looking pieces to your wardrobe.
    • Looking smart requires focusing on quality over quantity and choosing a few good quality key pieces, such has a great jacket and pants set.
    • Pants and jeans: Shop for pants that are tailored and fit you well in length, in the waist and in overall fit. They can be stylish and trendy. So long as they fit well you appear that you took time in putting the outfit together. Choose jeans that fit appropriately. If they are really long you should wear heels (ladies) or have them altered. No one looks smart in hugely over sized jeans that drag the ground. You look like you found a pair of pants and didn't care if they fit.
    • For the guys, non-baggy corduroys or khakis are good, and in the summer, khaki shorts.
    • Tops: T-shirts are fine but avoid controversial or rude graphics. Avoid grossly over sized shirts. Start looking for shirts with social messages, vintage rock bands and smart comments.
      • Make sure the shirts are within your interest. You don't want someone to ask about your message and you not understand what it means. It's fine to wear your favorite band shirts but dress them up with a blazer so you turn it into your look and not appear as if you've emerged from a Hot Topic yard sale. You can keep a lot of your current wardrobe, just polish up the other elements.
      • Don't wear t-shirts all the time and if you do you should top it with a blazer, and accessorize with a belt and appropriate shoes.
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    Wear dress shirts sometimes to mix it up. Buy shirts that are cut to fit your body type. Look for lengths that are appropriate, not too short and not too long. Plan ahead and don't go reaching into the back of your closet for your old styles when the seasons change.
    • Girls and ladies should look for pieces that appear tailored and flatter their good features. Don't hide under bulky sweaters and sweatshirts but look for tailored looking pieces. Get a combination of short and long sleeve. If the fit is good you can mix it up with fun colors and trendy prints.
    • Guys should wear appropriately sized shirts. Add variety by choosing fun colors. If the fit is good you can really mix it up with fun colors and trendy prints.
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    Dress athletically only when in use. Men and women should avoid wearing athletic attire and shoes unless you are actually doing something athletic. This doesn't mean wear it because you'll be doing it later in the day, this means unless you are actually at the gym, running laps or in PE you need to keep your athletic wear in a bag. This includes your favorite player jersey.
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    Wear shoes that are undamaged (free of deep scuffs and wear), that fit well and that can be polished (unless suede). You can get some well made shoes with fun colors that enhance your look and make you look polished while still keeping your personality
    • Men should invest in a few pairs of shoes both in black and brown. Again, look for shoes that can be polished and aren't worn out.
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    Pay close attention to personal hygiene!
    • Shower and shave regularly. At least once daily or more if you participate in sports.
    • Wear a nice fragrance or body spray
    • Guys should get hair cuts every month or so. If you sport a longer style you should at least get the hair trimmed from the back of your neck. You can still be long and funky but you need to keep it shaped and clean looking.
    • Hairy necks look sloppy and dirty
    • Ladies should avoid coloring their hair unless they have the time and money to maintain the look and the roots.
    • Black may be cool now but it may look unnaturally dark. Go for colors that compliment your skin tone.
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    Get a skin care regime and stick to it daily.
    • Wash and exfoliate with the appropriate skin care products for your skin type
    • See a dermatologist if you have acne or skin problems
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    Wear quality eye-wear. Seeing is a good thing. Get glasses if you need them.
    • Get your eyes checked if you haven't in a while, can't see from the back of class or get headaches when you read or spend too much time on the computer.
    • If you need glasses you should shop for a neutral colored plastic (brown, tortoise shell or black) frame or a metal frame.
    • If you wear more silver jewelry, get a silver frame.
    • If you don't need glasses, then you can get non-prescriptions ones but you do run the risk of being teased if you're caught. Glasses are a commitment. Instead of getting contacts and fake glasses just don't get the contacts. Go with glasses for the most studious look.
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    Look at your behaviors and see what you do that generates negative attention and what generates positive attention. Think about why you do certain things. Do you do things to be controversial? To get attention? To look like your friends or to fit into a certain group? Evaluate your results. You now know something about yourself by the process of introspection. Do your results apply to the general population? Probably. Now you're a philosopher!
    • Understand you can still sharpen up your look and not lose your integrity or your friends.
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    Realize you can still keep your personality and style. If you tend to dress in a frumpy manner, or older than you really are, you'll need to let go of your comfort zone and be willing to try something new.
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    Look at the people you respect and think of the things that set them apart from yourself. Is it the look? The confidence? Do they just seem more engaging?
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    Be genuine. You'll appear smarter if you talk about things you know something about. Sure, you can carry around quantum physics books but when a person familiar with the topic starts engaging in conversation you'll look like a phony and stupid.

Part 2
Buffing Up Your Knowledge

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    Learn random trivia. You have to know a little about something, then stock up on trivia. Did you know that Martin Van Buren was the 8th president and started his term in 1837? See? If someone is talking with you or with you and some friends talking about something, and you know a little trivia about it, then you should bring it up. Don't interrupt them or you'll look like a jerk. But remember, there is a fine line between dropping little bits of trivia here and there and being a know it all. Beware of doing this too much.
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    Look beyond your small piece of the world. Become knowledgeable about news events and the things that are going on in the wider world.
    • Read at least 20 minutes of news everyday online.
    • Read about different subjects or people that interest you.
    • Visit museums, art shows, historical sites, planetariums, etc. Soak up the world around you. Awareness always makes you more knowledgeable and you will have more intelligent things to talk about.
    • Walk away from the video games and don't spend all night on the computer chatting with friends. You don't have to give either up entirely but you should scale back to make room for other things.
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    Do your homework, whether for school, college or work, and be prepared. This includes reading, reports and even extra research.
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    Expand your knowledge of your favorite interest. If you like music you can read books about your favorite bands, the music industry, older bands that inspired the bands of today, digital production, instruments, etc. The same goes for art, history, fashion, psychology, religion, etc. Carry those books around and you will look smart and be infinitely more interesting than someone who fakes it.

Part 3
Interacting with Others

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    Surround yourself with smart friends and interesting people.
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    Get involved in a charity or civic duty. This will really broaden your view of the world and bring you much more knowledge about people and society.
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    Spend time talking to people older and more experienced than you. Talk about the past, events in history they experienced and ask questions.
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    Participate in class when you're in school or college and don't fade into the background. Be sure to answer as many challenging questions as you can, but avoid commenting on obvious ones as they will garner no respect and a wrong answer will make you look foolish. Ask questions and openly talk to the teacher about the subjects and ideas behind them either during or after class. Your teachers will respect your interest even if it's newly found.
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    Don't feel pressured to comment on everything. Sometimes the best thing to do is just to listen. Plus, others will value your opinions more if they are less frequent.
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    Don't try to bluff your way through topics. The people that actually know about it will spot a phony a mile away. Instead, wait for the conversation to drift to something you are familiar with or gently direct the conversation in that direction.
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    Ask questions. Be actively engaged in a discussion or conversation. Don't pretend you know everything. The smartest people ask lots of questions. But sometimes pretend that you know... and don't ask a lot of questions that could irritate people a lot.


  • Don't brag about being smart. It's the people that don't have to talk about it that come across as the smartest.
  • Never stop learning, the world is an open book.
  • Try not to "blurt" things out. Think before you speak. A little time to gather your thoughts can often provide you with great responses.
  • Don't be shy to speak in front of people.
  • Listen and ask questions. You're more engaging when you ask questions than by nodding and pretending you understand everything.
  • Ask to take harder classes and don't just take easy classes to be lazy.
  • Smart people know when to ask for help. If you don't understand a subject you should get extra help or tutoring.
  • Ditch friends that are a bad influence and don't make you a better person. You can be guilty by association.
  • Keep up with school and work duties. You can only look so smart when you're being a slacker.
  • Compete in contest as school which require essays, artwork or testing. Even if you don't win it will be great experience.
  • Sit next to smart people in classes (chemistry, biology, etc.) where you get to team up. It keeps you on your toes and you'll be less tempted to goof off.
  • Ask your boss to send you to training or provide training for advancement or management.
  • Rephrase someone's answer and make it sound smarter with bigger words.


  • Do not give advice on something unless you are sure.
  • Don't brag about your intelligence or your grades; this simply makes you stuck-up.
  • Don't reveal your marks to any other student. If someone asks you can be honest. If it's a good grade, be modest. If it's a bad grade, confess that you didn't study. Don't say you studied all night and failed but also understand you don't have to perfect.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet
  • Polished wardrobe pieces
  • An interesting book (make sure you know what it's about if people ask)

Article Info

Categories: Intellectual Types