It’s pretty amazing how a piece of cut and sewn material can make us feel. From tatty and torn boyfriend jeans to a sparkling new outfit; we know that dressing for success is more than a catchy motto. As The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Huffington Post has pointed out, we know that putting on a nice outfit for work produces higher levels of productivity and helps us to become more confident. But it goes deeper than that still: our wardrobes are able to tell a personal story where we’re essentially able to control our own destiny (if you’re feeling that way inclined at 11am on a Tuesday morning).
Cognitive research has proven that the way we dress has all sorts of magical and mystical social effects on our peers and bosses. Science of Us notes how a 2012 study found that when people wear lab coats, they have greater sustained attention. What’s more, If it was called a “painter’s coat,” the effect wasn’t nearly as obvious as if it was called a doctor’s coat. Conversely, a 2014 study found that a male professor in a beard and a T-shirt was more highly rated by students than one clean-shaven and dressed in a suit, earning the name “the red sneakers effect.”
They’re more than “just clothes”
The way we dress our bodies for work is really an extension of our own abstract personalities – isn’t it? (okay granted; you might not be a blazer kind-of-woman come 5pm on a Friday). Our clothes provide us with a sense of place and cultural identity. The way we dress is important for our peers and colleagues too: this 2015 paper found that when people felt more dressed up than their peer group, they thought more creatively and abstractly and helps to gain higher levels of trust.
What’s more, dressing smartly carries a big aspirational purpose too and it’s one of the big reasons why our leaders and government figures dress smartly. Take Conor McGregor for example; his love of finely tailored suits and luxury items has seen a significant rise in the amount of young men here aspiring to dress like him and be as successful as him. And what about Michelle Obama who, through the stunning outfits she wears, frequently reminds us to be strong and determined and injects much-needed trust into our lives (#Michelle2020). The benefit of a smart wardrobe goes beyond streamlining your wardrobe as ScienceOfUs says; offering stability and confidence to whoever you’re around.
So yes it’s true, you should make a conscious effort to dress for your own success (yes, it might mean rising a bit earlier in the morning) but with women like Obama, Amal Clooney, and Angelina Jolie as inspiration, it shouldn’t be too difficult.