A recent Wall Street Journal article, Dress for Success by Ray A. Smith, sheds some light on the latest research on how dressing confidently attributes to more productive work environments.
Dressing professionally might seem second-nature. Let’s look at in a different framework: school uniforms. While some argue that requiring students to wear the same clothes restricts development of creativity and expression, others acknowledge that formal attire prepares adolescents for the professionalism of the real world. Once you are no longer a young student, you’re free to make your own choices. What you wear thus defines your personality and your attitude. Your style becomes your attitude.
Smith highlights the work of Professor of organizational behavior Michael W. Kraus, at the Yale School of Management. After putting 128 men through role-playing tasks to see the effects of how people react to the type of clothes worn, he essentially proves that wearing more formal attire can send others a signal about about you being successful and real confident. This affected not only in competitive situations but in whatever comes their way. Wearing polished attire affects how you appear to others but in also affects your internal processing of the world. You’re reflected as a certain individual to others so you start thinking in that way. Your creative juices get amped up.
This doesn’t mean you should give up the personal touch of your clothes. But you should acknowledge that what you wear is a reflection of your professional voice and ability.
So, how can you dress the part?
- Dress Sleek: If wearing a suit isn’t exactly your style, focus on clothes with a sleek fit and high-quality materials. Look for pieces that hug your body gently but with room for movement (not tight, not baggy) Aim for cashmere, thin wool, or cotton fabrics. Minimal accessories such as a nice watch can be just enough to make the outfit.
- Dress Confidently: Wear an outfit that you have worn before. This way, you’ll prevent any unfortunate wardbrobe malfunctions such as a shirt coming untucked or slippery socks.
- Define the Dress Code: Often, you’ll be given a regiment of appropriate dress for specific events, such as “business casual” and “business formal.” Forget about these terms. As long as you are dressed your finest, there’s no such thing as business casual. You should always be dressed your best, and you’ll be on your way toward success.