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Does workplace attire affect work?

Studies prove workplace attire matters. You may have all essential traits to make you successful at work, but dressing well at office can keep you ahead of your peers. A well-dressed person quickly catches attention. A book should not be judged by the cover – but doesn’t a great cover draw you towards it?

The age-old adage – dress for the job you want not for the job you have – is much relevant even today. Your dressing sense is more than others’ perception about you. Studies prove that the clothes you wear at the office affect your work productivity. Although these are small laboratory studies, a growing body of research shows some biological changes happen when you slip into a trendy workplace outfit. You feel like a new person.

Is this the feel-good factor that boosts your confidence and self-belief or something magical that creates such an effect? It does not come as a surprise when we see employee dress code is given importance in many organizations.

Striking effects workplace attire may have on you:

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  • Wearing formal office attire increased abstract thinking, essential to creativity and long-term strategizing.
  • Formal attire helps in getting better profitable deals.
  • Workplace errors and mistakes are likely to drop by nearly 50%.

All of the above findings are backed by research and studies.

Dressing well at office can bring you success:

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Aren’t we eager to present ourselves in a better manner in our professional lives? Dressing well is the first step. The truth of the above phrase has been duly supported by a study conducted in the University of Yale. Your well-dressed personality enhances your image among your co-workers – like how confident are you or how well can you visualize the entire scenario. In the study, the participants were subjected to mock negotiations. Participants in suits bagged an average profit of $2.1 million, while those in sweatpants could manage only $ 680,000.

6 study-backed reasons to dress well at the workplace:

Being well dressed positively influences your thoughts about yourself:

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It can be due to a term called enclothed cognition that influences the psychology of the wearer. In a study, participants wearing suits felt more authoritative, trustworthy and competent. Putting on formals gives the feeling of being more powerful.

Changing how others perceive you:

In a study with 900 teachers and students in Ohio, it was seen that both teachers and students assumed those who are well dressed have higher IQ and scored higher grades. Well, exceptions may be there.

Right workplace attire increases your chances of getting a job and being promoted:

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A study published by the Journal of Psychology in 1985 stated that physical attractiveness and dressing sense influenced the hiring decision. CareerBuilder survey involving nearly 3000 employers found, 41% of them are likely to give promotions to people used to professional attire.

Make a better first impression:

In a study, researchers of North East London Polytechnic approached people to help them with an advertising survey. They wore different outfits – one neat and tidy and other shabby. Based on outfits, they tracked the people’s response to agree or refuse the survey.

What they found was unbelievable:

  • Elderly men agreed 23% more to the well-dressed man
  • Elderly women agreed 73% more to the well-dressed man

The last one is amazing:

  • Young women agreed 98% more to the well-dressed man

Dressing well facilitates your winning chances. It makes a much better first impression.

Dressing well  improves your physical attractiveness:

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The Home Economics Research Journal in 2009 conducted a study to assess the impact of clothing attractiveness. Participants were asked to rate the competence, work comfort and ability of social interaction of six models. Three of them wore attractive outfits and the remaining three wore unattractive ones. It was found models wearing attractive clothes were perceived on a higher level in all respects compared to not-so-well dressed peers.

Dressing well makes your life easier:

This is the obvious outcome of all the points discussed above. Our society perceives a well-dressed physically attractive person differently rather more positively. None can deny that. You will be quickly accepted and are likely to get more recognition. All these are bound to have a cumulative effect on work productivity, making you perform better.

Color of your workplace attire:

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Colors play a big role in developing our perception of people and products. Therefore, it is natural that the same would affect our professional identities too. It is not just a mere perception of fashion or style. According to a fashion expert, colors reflect subtle messages affecting your mood and that of your coworkers around you.

Colors do not define your professional identity, but you can apply it to your advantage by choosing suitable colors for your workplace attire.

A few simple tips to wear colors:

  • Blue: Inspires trust and confidence. Reflects you as a team player. Wear this color when in doubt. One of the best colors to wear for an interview.
  • Black: Displays leadership, exclusivity and sophistication. Adds gravity to the personality. The best color to wear for an interview. But wear it neatly.
  • Red: Makes you focused, committed and trustworthy. Best when you wish to impress somebody.
  • Gray: Conservative color, best when you are meeting somebody for the first time. At work, it will project you as more confident.
  • White: Reflects your meticulousness. Amidst a team wearing bright colors or loud prints, your white attire will make you stand out of the rest.
  • Purple/Green: Not the best ones for interviews but portrays your non-aggressive confidence. Good to catch attention and suitable amidst creative business setting.
  • Orange: Reflects friendliness, but is considered as the worst color for interview. Suitable to wear in a networking event.

Carry well what you wear:

You have taken care of everything – the color of workplace attire, its fittings and all. But how well do you carry it? That is what matters in the end. Even if everything is fine, unless you carry your dress well, everything will be spoiled. While wearing formal outfits, be comfortable in it. Never appear clumsy. Do not be overly conscious, else it will be a disaster. The mantra is to be normal in formals.

Final words:

The workplace environment is changing. Not every organization enforces employee dress code. Some organizations allow their employees to dress freely and casually, giving them some free space. These organizations may encourage an informal setting to bring out creativity and innovations from employees. But some business organizations give importance to workplace attire to maintain their professional identity. It not only displays its image but sends a message of professionalism.

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Dr Prem Jagyasi (c)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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