To Get Ahead, You Still Need to Dress Up For Work
As more employers scale back regulations on what employees wear to work, we happily trade our professional attire for yoga pants and graphic Tees.
Corporate offices are in search of that entrepreneurial magic. Translating to a workplace so comfortable and open that it inspires innovation and collaboration.
But experts argue that looking professional is not only respectable, it pays off. Mathew Randall, the executive director of the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania, firmly believes how you dress goes a long way:
Mathew Randall, the executive director of the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania, firmly believes how you dress goes a long way. He says “clothes, accessories and even the footwear an employee chooses to wear help reinforce or diminish their skills and qualities in the eyes of their employer, co-workers, and clients.”
Dr. Karen Pine, believes casual clothes make us less focused.
“We know the difference between professional and casual attire,” says Pine, A fashion psychologist from the University of Hertfordshire. “When the work day is over, we go home and hop into our casual laid back clothing. Yoga pants and sweatshirts mean relaxation.
When we dress the same to work as we do at home, there starts to become a blurred line. Are we able to mentally make the switch to work mode?
A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear’, so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”
Take It From The Research
Dr. Pine’s point isn’t just speculation.
Professor Adam D. Galinsky from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management introduced the term, “enclothed cognition.” The term was created after studies were done showing how clothes systematically influence your psychological process.
In a test done by Dr. Galinsky and his colleague Dr. Hajo Adam, they found that clothing choice had an effect on mental capacity on the job. They studied the effects of wearing a lab coat versus not wearing one. The result—those who wore the lab coat executed higher selective attention.
Self-perception takes a toll on your work ethic. Not only is there a symbolic meaning with more professional clothing, but it can change the way we walk and even do our jobs.
What Do Your Clothes Say?
Alexandra Levit, author of “Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success” says, “You don’t want to be judged on the basis of something so silly as dress.”
The bottom line is clothing speaks. It communicates who you are long before you say a word. Let your wardrobe say confidence, leadership, and power.