How we Dress at Work Matters
The way we behave, how we communicate, verbally and non-verbally, and interact with our colleagues can affect the way others see us in the workplace. But another thing that can really influence our image and performance are our work clothes. Therefore, it is crucial that when we think of what to wear, we evaluate colours, patterns, accessories, etc.
Not many years ago, everyone wore a suit to work, regardless of the industry. However, today, things have changed. Companies are more open-minded about work clothes and some even give employees the freedom to decide what to wear. But of course, there are still others that require formality or even a uniform.
Many studies and research show that clothes can indeed improve our work performance. Consider, for example, if we are wearing clothes we like or are comfortable with, our confidence and sense of self-empowerment improves, which can make us more productive and efficient. A 2015 study conducted by Michael L. Slepian demonstrated that wearing formal clothes strengthens cognitive skills. Another study from Pinterland showed that about 70% of the 100 “Best Companies to Work” in 2018 dressed as business or business casual. These studies seem to show a correlation between formal clothes and work performance.
However, more than impacting our performance, the way we dress influences how colleagues and managers’ perception of us. We should really invest in it, especially when networking or on our first day. Our clothes leave an impression on others. For instance, stains or overused clothing may show that we are messy and sloppy. We should invest in quality, given that clothes are a way of expressing ourselves. Plus, employees’ clothing affects how customers, clients, etc. see the company and its brand.
On the other hand, it is equally crucial not to be overdressed. Workers must adapt to the environment. The way we dress should match our role/tasks and meet the requirements of the workplace. Regardless of the company’s clothing policy, it is essential to have a professional look. For instance, in business meetings with clients/customers, workers must put more effort on how they dress. So, we must dress to impress and for the work/career we intend.
When workers think of their clothes, they should also not forget their overall image, which includes the tone of their voice, perfume, hairstyle, posture. Like clothes, these are equally critical in the workplace.
In the end, we must remember to differentiate our work clothes from our everyday wardrobe. It is a way of improving our work-life balance and setting boundaries between the two “worlds”. It is a visual reminder for others and for us.