Suited for success: Why dressing for the occasion matters.
Updated: Dec 29, 2021
Imagine this: you are a person who has studied and worked countless hours just to get your dream job at a high-functioning investing firm. You went to college, got a degree, and spent the past three days in front of a mirror practicing your responses to questions the interviewer might ask you. You have your resume, portfolio, and references, but you made one fatal mistake, you walked into the interview wearing a baggy hoodie and a worn-out pair of jeans.
It doesn’t matter how good your resume is or what you say during the interview; you will be fighting an uphill battle to get the job.
By not dressing correctly for the occasion you are attending, you limit the ability to function in every situation you might find yourself in.
The old idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” is a mindset we’ve all been exposed to. The idea that you should never attribute value to something by looking at its appearance. This mindset, while nice, isn’t realistic. Studies have shown that the time it takes for someone to make a general evaluation of a person is made within the first couple of seconds of meeting them.
Whether it is walking into an interview, a first date, or just a night out on the town, the way you dress is the best way to make an excellent first impression.
So, why is it so important to wear nice clothes?
By taking time to put on a well-fitted suit, sweater, or even a pair of well-polished shoes, you send out a signal that you’re a confident, sophisticated person who is in control of your surroundings. By dressing well, you can change the way you are perceived and affect the way you interact with those around you.
Command and succeed
In a business world, the need to present yourself with an air of professionalism is crucial for success. By wearing a nice set of clothes, you display yourself as someone who is strong, influential, and capable.
In an article by the Wallstreet Journal, people that are dressed in a well-tailored suit and tie or a well-fitted sweater over an oxford shirt are more likely to succeed in their careers than someone who shows up to work dressed in casual clothes.
Even adjusting minor parts of your wardrobe can yield noticeable results. For example, wearing a good watch or a nice pair of shoes can increase the likelihood of success.
Not only does dressing nice increase your chances of success, but it commands respect from those around you. Adding one or two high-end pieces to your wardrobe can change the way others perceive you and help you take charge of any situation by triggering parts of the brain that cause people to act differently when around a well-dressed person.
“In competitive, winner-take-all situations, wearing more formal attire can send others a signal about you being successful and real confident in whatever you’re doing.”
Michael W. Kraus
Be approachable and attentive
While some of the clothes you wear can command authority and respect from those around you, they are also capable of making someone more approachable.
You can present yourself as laid-back and easily approachable by wearing something casual like nice, loose pieces of clothing such as hoodies, jackets, jeans, and sneakers. By wearing something casual. you send out a similar yet opposite signal as one would create while wearing a suit and tie. You present yourself as an approachable person who makes others feel at ease.
Not only does it make you look more approachable; it makes you feel more approachable. Briefly mentioned in an article by the Atlantic, if you wear a set of clothes that belong to people of select fields, you might adopt some of the associated traits. In the study, the researchers had their subjects put on clothing pieces believed to belong to someone more attentive. They began to exhibit slightly more attentive behavior.
“when subjects wore a white coat that they believed belonged to a doctor, they became more attentive” The Atlantic
Just like how wearing a suit and tie might cause everyone around you to respect and follow you, wearing something casual makes the people around you feel at ease.
Feel like a champion
Like mentioned briefly in the section above, wearing a nice set of clothes not only changes the way others see you, but it also changes the way you see yourself.
In both the Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal articles, the idea that the way you dress can affect your own psyche is very present. Your clothes can make you feel assertive, confident, and attentive and change the overall way you view your surroundings.
The way our brain tells us to think and feel while wearing a nice set of clothes is very different compared to the way we feel while we are wearing something lackluster.
“Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world.”
In the Atlantic article, they cite a study that tests whether or not clothes can change the way we think; by putting on a formal suit and tie, the subjects started to think broader and look at the big picture more than the people in something casual. In the Wall Street Journal, just wearing something as simple as a nice blazer can increase productivity in making a sale, negotiating, or attending conferences.
Wearing quality pieces of clothing can increase one’s self-confidence, abstract thinking, and productivity and can change the overall way you see, feel, and think about yourself.
Why dressing well matters
Whether it’s changing the way people view you, commanding those around you while wearing a suit and tie, or easing the room and yourself with a comfortable outfit, putting on a nice set of clothes can have the ability to change the way others see you and can also make you more confident, productive, and capable. So put on that nice suit and tie or that cozy sweater, and change the world around you.