ProduKtive Blog

What Not To Wear: Why Your Wardrobe Choices Matter More Than You Think

Oct 17, 2017 | Family, Health & Happiness, The ONE Thing

If you aren’t up to speed on unusual holidays, you may not realize that today is Wear Something Gaudy Day. In other words, celebrating today means diving into the depths of your closet and donning the showiest and tackiest outfit you have. Not quite the guidelines to follow for most days in the office.

Even when the rules of an unusual holiday aren’t directing your wardrobe picks, it can be difficult to know what to wear in the workplace. To help, we’ve put together some advice for how to dress for the trajectory to the top.

Rule 1: Let Yourself Shine

If your office has a dress code, of course it’s important to abide by it. That being said, when it comes to dressing for success, the number one rule is to dress authentically. This means we should follow a dress code in a way that accurately reflects who we are.  The reason for this directive is simple: we’re at our most comfortable when we dress like ourselves.

Whether your office dress code is conservative or straight up lax, there’s always some wiggle room to express yourself. Think flair! From a fun pocket square or tie with a standard suit to unique fabric patterns on a traditional blouse – the ways we can highlight our identities through what we wear is endless. And it will help you feel relaxed and self-assured when presenting yourself to others. As Carrie Kerpen writes in Forbes, “The reality is that our appearance not only affects how we’re perceived by others, but how we perceive ourselves. When we look confident, we’re more likely to feel confident.” No matter the dress code, look in the mirror and make sure you feel confidently you.

Rule 2: Be Intentional about your Look

We’re all adults here – so if you choose to flout the office dress code, well, that’s your decision. And research shows that looking different from the herd can send a positive message to those around us if our choice to be different is perceived by others as intentional and not accidental. For this conclusion, researchers looked at what was worn by attendees at an academic conference.  They found that the attendees who shied away from common “business attire” at the convention, and made different wardrobe choices, had higher status and productivity in terms of their published work.

As the study’s authors conclude, “When the deviant behavior appears to be deliberate, it can lead to higher rather than lower status and competence inferences.”  In other words, if you decide to be different, make sure that it’s clear that others know it was a conscious choice and not because you’ve fallen behind on the laundry.

Rule 3: Wear what Makes You Feel Smart

By this point, we can agree that what we wear influences our success because it impacts both how we feel and how others see about us. But is there any evidence that our wardrobe choices can actually impact our brain power?

Research tells us that our intentions matter. In other words, you may be reading a study that suggests dressing down for your role will help others gain the impression that you’re more productive and better at what you do than others. Or you may be referencing one of a couple of different studies that showed participants who changed into formal clothing before cognitive tests were more likely to experience stronger feelings of power than their more casually dressed counterparts, which positively influenced their ability to perform their job. Whichever avenue you choose to follow, the reason for your choice matters.

If you take on the role of the non-conformist with your wardrobe in the workplace, don’t simply skimp on the dress code out of sheer laziness. Likewise, if you make the decision to amp up your attire, do it to positively impact your own confidence level, not to make others uncomfortable. And if you have a lucky pair of socks and a big meeting approaching, by all means, wear them and quite possibly knock the meeting out of the park as a direct result.

How do you dress for success? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what wardrobe choices work for you!

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