Does The Way You Dress Determine Your Success?

Photo by Hunters Race man in business suit

Steve Jobs was famous for wearing virtually the same thing every day—a black mock turtleneck, jeans and sneakers. It was simple yet serious and became a uniform of sorts for Jobs. But he isn’t alone. Cultivating a singular style is a trend among many successful people.

What does your style say about you? Does the way you dress really influence performance and success?

Many people don’t take their personal styles seriously, but what we wear does have a significant impact in the workplace. Whether you dress for efficiency or to make a statement, research has shown time and time again that style and success go together.

Personal Style Can Help You Build A Brand Identity

Legendary musician Johnny Cash is a perfect example of how attire can create an identity. His onyx onstage attire earned him the nickname “the man in black.” It started as a good luck ritual, but grew to become a part of his persona. Today, his fans still don black on his birthday as a tribute to the performer.

Being recognizable is certainly good for a musician, but it’s also beneficial for professionals in the public spotlight. Politicians often create a signature look in order to increase recognition. Knowing what to expect, even with something as simple as clothing, can also create a sense of reliability.

A Signature Style Reduces Day-To-Day Decisions

Successful people always look for ways to live and work more efficiently. Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and President Obama have all said they wore essentially the same thing every day so they had one less decision to make. Each man found an outfit that they felt comfortable in and stuck with it.

Arianna Huffington raised a similar point, saying women are often looked at through a more critical lens when it comes to fashion choices. She says wearing the same look repeatedly helps level the corporate playing field.

Having fewer decisions to make in the day does have an impact on our brains. There has been much research done surrounding decision fatigue and willpower. Meaning, every time you make a decision you exert brainpower that depletes the brain of energy. With a signature style you can conserve your energy for more important decisions.

Public Perception Is Largely Based On What You Wear

The depth of a person goes well beyond what they’re wearing, but that still doesn’t negate the fact that people make judgments based on what they see. Many office dress codes are created around this concept. Business owners want the appearance of the employees to reflect a certain perception about the company.

What we wear gives us a level of control over how others perceive us. Create the right perception with the right people and it’s easier to advance in your career. Pair strategic clothing with good communication skills and you can even influence other people’s behavior toward you.

Also consider how you feel when others are judging your appearance. When you’re worried less about giving the right people the wrong impression, you can focus on more important things like your work.

Maybe changing up your style is just what you need to stand out. One important finding is that slight deviations from the norm can improve people’s perception. Studies published in the Journal of Consumer Research in June 2014 noted that when someone wears one unique accessory, then others will rate them as more competent and in a higher status. Why? Because people that add a unique wardrobe twist are considered comfortable and powerful enough to break the rules a little.

And these perceptions aren’t reserved for others. We also have preconceived notions about certain types of clothing, which influence how we feel. Our feelings in turn affect our performances.

Feeling better about how you look has also been proven to boost mood and self-esteem. People who feel happy and confident are naturally going to be more productive.

Dressing Better Can Influence Cognitive Processing

When you set big goals, dressing well can help you reach them. Researchers at California State University and Columbia University conducted a study. They found that when people dress in formal attire they can keep the big picture in mind. When the cognitive process is altered, small details give way to the big ideas. In other words when you dress in a suit you can adopt a higher level of thinking.

Comfort Is Still A Factor

Experts and researchers note that the benefits of dressing up can be undone if the clothes make a person uncomfortable. Whether it’s physical or psychological discomfort, this distraction reduces productivity. Professionals recommend that people find clothing that will create their desired perception while still being comfortable to wear.

Science backs up old adages like “dress for success,” “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” and “the power suit.” For that reason, careful consideration should be put into office dress codes that support positive perceptions and increased productivity.

Have you adopted a uniform that you feel has positively affected your work life and productivity? Let us know on our Facebook page. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more articles and research.

Courtesy of The ONE Thing Blog archives

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