Henry Ward Beecher once said, “Clothes and manners do not make the man; but, when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.” He was most certainly right. Once you’ve become the person you were meant to be and gained all the academic or professional skills you’ve dreamed of acquiring, it is your time to shine and show the world what you’re made of. However, ‘showing’ nowadays is taken quite literally, and the way we present ourselves speaks volumes of who we are before we’ve even had the chance to speak.
You may not be a believer in the fact that the wrong dressing code and visual impression can hinder your professional success and leave you with few options, but if you just take a moment to look around, you will realize that presentation is everything. From a dinner plate, a tastefully decorated apartment to our own presentation – it all matters, it all leaves a mark that is forever etched in others’ brains. If you’re still unconvinced, let us guide you through it, so you can fully grasp the importance of dressing appropriately.
Let science lead the way
Perhaps you were unaware of the existence of a phenomenon called enclothed cognition. The term is essentially used to ‘describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes’. For instance, when you are wearing a lab coat, assuming that you work in a field that requires you to wear one, you are instantly perceived as meticulous, attentive and caring. The same principle can be applied to all different kinds of uniforms, including proper corporate attire.
When you’re well put together, and in accordance with the dress code of a given company, you will be perceived as more professional, capable and assertive – all the traits you desire to possess and exude in a workplace. However, there is more to the experiment. Namely, not only were participants perceived as more capable and described with adjectives relevant to their occupation, but the people wearing said uniforms actually felt more capable and up to the task.
As an expert in embodied cognition, Joshua I. Davis states,” I love the idea of trying to figure out why, when we put on certain clothes, we might more readily take on a role and how that might affect our basic abilities.” So you see, your attire doesn’t only have an external effect. It actually puts, a spring in your step, making you believe that you’ve got this, and you do. There are so many wonderful options when it comes to the universe that is women’s clothing and dressing for the job you want has never been easier, especially with the return of the more minimal and sharper pieces, not to mention the return of the power suit, and of course, never let go of such timeless pieces as white shirts, wide-leg pants and a classic trench coat.
What do other experts say?
Another study that was conducted –Gender and the Returns to Attractiveness, has shown that there exists a strong connection between attractiveness and potential income. In fact, the results of that study state that attractive individuals earn 20 percent more than what those who are considered to be of only average attractiveness. However, the attractiveness effect has far less to do with actual beauty and your God-given features. It has more to do with your ability to polish up and look presentable.
The study mentions something called the ‘beauty premium’ – a feat one can achieve by simple acts of grooming – which extends to both the clothes we choose as well as the makeup and hairstyle choices we make. It may sound harsh and even superficial, but in all fairness, no one is demanding we all look like Hollywood stars to get the job. We just need to make it clear that we had a look at ourselves in the mirror before leaving the house.
So what does one wear when they’re in it to win it?
If you want the job, or want to be taken more seriously at the job you have, follow the dress code rules. At the same time, make sure you stand out a little. For instance, one of the most powerful women in global finance, Christine Lagarde, is someone who follows the inconspicuous and professional rules of grey suits, but she does a little something to make herself look distinctive.
A scarf in a contrasting color is her weapon of choice. It manages to set her apart from the crowd and makes her exude more powerful vibes than those around her. So, follow the rules of power dressing, but always know your way around accessories so you still stand out. Of course, not every work environment has such strict rules. It’s all about knowing your audience, and this is something Amal Clooney is very familiar with. She is always dressed perfectly for the given occasion; a women’s rights gathering – bring on a conservative fitted dress in navy blue with subtle stripes and her hair inconspicuously perfect. Then comes the red carpet and she’s not afraid of rocking larger than life gowns. It’s all about the role you play.
The final lesson
When it comes to either blending in or standing out in all the right ways, a smart color selection is everything. When looking to appear and feel dominant for instance, always go for something black –it’s both elegant and professional. There isn’t a color out there that doesn’t come with its set of meanings. Before you wear something, make sure your color palette will convey the right message. To that end, also make sure to avoid a plethora of different colors and patterns.
Of course, there is always the issue of the cut and fit. Oversized slouchy clothes don’t say ‘I’m a pro’, and will definitely not give you the advantage you want. Always make sure everything is pressed and fits like a glove – never underestimate the power of good ironing skills.
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