What You Wear Might Change Your Life

Lack Of Attention

I was taught to dress well. But most importantly, I was taught to dress appropriately. I learned early on that what I wear affects what friends, co-workers, and bosses think of me. Paying attention to clothes and what it represented became second nature to me.

When I moved to Silicon Valley, CA, I was blown away by people’s lack of attention to clothes. Most people wore flip-flops, shorts, old t-shirts, leggings, and hoodies regardless of an event. I was so confused.

At first, I thought “the problem” was limited to schools and colleges. Young adults do not have as much money to spend on clothes. But little did I know. Silicon Valley overall preferred a very relaxed way of dressing. The casual look included yoga pants or jeans, a tank top or t-shirt, and a sweatshirt.

I was even more confused.

Do they not care about their appearances or what their clothes represent to the world?

Missing Piece

As I spent more time in the Bay Area, I realized that part of the problem is education. Schools, parents, and role models do not emphasize the power of a clean put-together outfit. Children and young adults are not taught that promotions and opportunities depend in part on their attire.

“The question is not whether you care about fashion, it’s more about what you’re communicating intentionally or unconsciously through your fashion choices.” Inc.com, Research Shows That the Clothes You Wear Actually Change the Way You Perform.

Our clothes tell stories about our values, hopes, and dreams. They invite people in for a conversation or discourage a partnership. A polished look shows ambition, attention to detail, and ability to lead even when these traits are not fully present.

Have you ever judged someone based on what they wore? Have you ever thought that one co-worker is better than another because of the way he/she is dressed? Have you ever wanted to hang out with a better-dressed friend?

Appearances speak volumes and influence what other people think about us. A client is not aware that a better worker might be the one who is a sloppy dresser. The client will prefer someone in a polished suit, which represents control and ambition. A better-dressed co-worker might get a more favorable project or a promotion over a careless dresser.

Our clothes are an extension of us. They represent who we are and who we want to be.

“Your clothes tell a story about you. If you want to show that your work is clean, sharp, and to the point, you need to dress in clean lines, sharp creases, and (yes) points on your shoes and tie. “ Inc.com, Research Shows That the Clothes You Wear Actually Change the Way You Perform.

A formal outfit does not only affect what people think about us, but it also influences how we think. Researchers from California State University, Northridge, and Columbia University suggest that polished attire affects our cognitive processes. Formal wear seems to improve abstract thinking and focus on a bigger picture.

“But clothes don’t just shape the way other people see us. New research … finds that the clothes we wear can also influence the way we think.” PsychologicalScience.org, When Clothing Style Influences Cognitive Style.

A 2012 study titled “Enclothed Cognition” showed that people altered their behavior based on what they wore. Individuals who were told to wear a doctor’s white lab coat became more attentive, whereas participants who wore a painter’s white coat showed no change in behavior.

Ways To Improve

There is no right or wrong when it comes to better dressing. The overall concept is to pay attention to your clothes and ensure you are dressed appropriately for an event.

And yes, old clothes that do not fit, have holes, saggy, stretched, and outgrown have to go (consider donating your clothes instead of throwing them away). Think about getting classical pieces like the white button-down, black or navy slacks, pencil skirt, blazer or jacket, straight jeans, little black dress, or chinos.

If you are heading into a meeting, client dinner, performance review, date, or lunch with your boss, select a clean, crisp look that shows:

  • attention to detail,

  • organization,

  • sharp thinking,

  • ambition,

  • power

And no matter what, your polished look will never harm your chances.


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