Dress for Success: The Psychology of Dressing Well
The famous saying, “Clothes make the man,” has often been ascribed to Mark Twain. While some folks doubt whether it was his or Shakespeare’s original idea, the truth is that it’s an interesting, yet debatable idea:
Do the clothes you wear affect your mental and physical performance?
You might be familiar with the stressful feeling of having to pick the right suit for a job interview. Or dressing for a first date. Or, dressing down when you don’t intend to stand out from the crowd.
What most of our readers want to know is, is there any truth to your clothes affecting the way you think, behave, or perform?
Let’s look at the research…
Certain clothes do seem to be beneficial. In Social Psychological and Personality Science, participants were asked to show up wearing either formal or casual clothes. Those who came in suits reported feeling more powerful and alert in their thinking.
Michael Slepian, a scholar at Columbia Business School, explained it this way: “Wearing formal clothing leads to more big-picture thinking, rather than concrete thinking that focuses on the details.”
Certain clothing colors are also worth noting. The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology recorded a study where subjects who performed demanding tasks while wearing a white lab coat made only half as many mistakes as those who did not.
One area where the right type or color of clothes proved to actually make a difference, was in the world of sports.
Researchers at the University of Rochester in New York State and at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich have been particularly interested in the phenomenon of red as a “winning sport”.
According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, it was examined whether the color red affected the opposing team’s performance. They found clear evidence that exposure to red did indeed trigger an “avoidance motivation.” Similar, perhaps, to the feeling you get upon seeing a stop sign.
Whatever you believe about the psychology of dressing, you definitely are judged on your outward appearance–whether you like it, or not.
If you’re completely honest, you’ve probably also judged others based on how they look, their hairstyles, or what they wore.
The Cleveland State University even did a study that claimed employees who exercised over three times a week earned more than their co-workers who did not.
Tips for Dressing for Success
No matter what your goals in life, dress for success. Here are some easy ways to start:
1. Consider who and why you are dressing up
What is the message you are trying to get across? Who do you want to influence by your clothing choices? If you want to be seen as trustworthy and successful, which clothes would make people have this reaction?
2. Find a good barber
Even if your clothes are simple and not fancy, your hairstyle says a lot. Find a barber who can achieve the type of look you want to convey. Let your barber know what your goals are–whether getting hired for that job or winning the upcoming game. A good barber knows which hair restoration products make you look your best and stand out from all the rest!
3. Find an excellent tailor
If you have clothes that you bought on a bargain and which don’t fit very well, there’s no need to throw them out. A good tailor can help you adjust hems, fit the clothing to your size, or even guide you on the next shopping choices you should make.
Remember, what you invest in today will make a world of difference tomorrow. If you dress for success, chances are, success will find you. And you’ll be glad you showed up in a perfectly tailored suit and cut when it does.
For more tips and grooming product ideas, follow our men’s style dispatch here on BSG.