I wouldn't say that I can use clothing to guess character but I might have an idea what they are into. Nowadays even that is difficult except maybe for the emo, goth, and punk crowd. Still not character but the person's interests. Temporary expression (like clothes) could be a hint towards their temporary state, but it would be stupid to take that temporary expression and define their entire life.
If I said, "Women with short hair are clearly stupid," that would be a really stupid statement. So why the hell would you say that a guy with long hair is a horrible person? If I said, "Women who wear nothing but pink are always preppy idiots," that would be a really stupid statement. So why the hell would you say that a guy wearing black is a horrible person? If I said, "People who don't tattoo themselves are purists and don't know how to live life," that would be stupid as hell. So why would you say a person who has tattoos is a horrible person? If you saw someone with sagging pants and wearing a bandanna helps an elderly woman with her bags, would you be surprised simply because of the way he dressed?
The way someone dresses has almost nothing to do with their moral standings.
People with tattoos are interested in tattoos. That is what I gather, not a trait or behavior, but an interest. There is no way to accurately deduce character. I could wear goth clothing but you wouldn't tell anything except that maybe I like certain types of clothes and maybe certain types of music but that isn't character. Just what I might be interested in.
I sometimes tend to judge people first hand by clothes. I am guilty as charged, but I know at the back of my mind that as a social being I do this naturally, and that it should not be used as a sole reason or even a reason at all to make a judgement on someones character.
It happens …
If I see someone dressed in ways that I don't find ideal, I don't judge their entire character. I just come to the conclusion that their choice of fashion is horrible. I hate going to the mall because I'll almost always see shorts really short on some women and some guys wearing their pants below their butts … once they start shouting, and hand waving and saying the dumbest shit I've ever heard spew out of human beings, then that’s when I start judging.
Assumptions no. But profiling a person based on certain traits from their choice and condition of clothing is fair. The only facts available is their attire, which says very little about them, as a person. Fashion taste is not a determining factor of character.
Someones choice to wear a Marilyn Manson's t-shirt that says, "Smells like Children" or "Vestal Masturbation: Jesus is a cunt" might indicate something about their character. You might just not know what that is. But I believe some judging is natural and almost instant. Cloths can give clues, but it’s not definitive and decisive, of course.
Clothing is just loosely true and mainly presumptive of character. Our external appearance is simply a manifestation of our thoughts and actions, yes there is arbitrary preference. As I said, if someone is walking down the street with a Marilyn Manson shirt, that person has some association with Marilyn Manson whether it be identification or personal preference. It's not necessarily okay, but it is natural for us to draw quick conclusions about others to assess our safety or position in relation to them.
The only element of appearance that would be repellent to me is if someones hygiene is clearly poor. Even though it doesn't stop them being a nice person necessarily, I would struggle with that, although I'd never be so cruel as to be rude to them about it.
I think it's safe to say we can assume more than we are comfortable with from outward appearance, especially attire; belonging to a social group/demographic is suggestive of a shared cultural capital of aesthetics, values, and ideas which goes a long way into forming character. Whilst this is obviously not definitive, we can assume a great deal, and we’re likely to be correct.
I've met people who look exemplary, shaken hands with them, looked them in the eye and thought "Oh I don't like you" and yet they're impeccably natty dressed. Just something about them … isn't that really the deciding factor when we meet people? Our instinct about whether they’re a good/not good person?