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What Is the Importance of Dressing Well at Work?

The age-old phrase command that you must “dress for success” is one that resonates anytime you insert yourself into a work setting. From your initial interview to your first day on the clock or even six months down the road, the way you dress completely affects the way you carry yourself.

And there’s science behind it too! A study conducted by the Scientific American found that formal dress lead to higher abstract thinking — doctors wearing lab coats were able to focus better and athletes wearing the color red were able to lift heavier and compete harder. Think about it, when you look good, you feel good. You sit up a little taller, carry yourself with a bit more confidence, and exude a certain aura that makes people do a double-take.

So if you’ve gotten into the habit of saying “I’ll clean up my act tomorrow” and have become lazy with your dressing efforts, it may be about time to get your groove back. Let’s take a deep dive into the reasons why dressing well at work matters, and why you should begin today!

Reason #1: Your appearance speaks before you do

They say first impressions are everything. When you meet someone for the first time, what do you notice before they introduce themselves? Is it how their hair is styled? Is it how well-tailored their clothing is? Is it their manicured nails? Perhaps it’s their toothy smile (especially if there’s spinach stuck in it). There are a variety of checklist points that you fly through when meeting a stranger, and all of this likely happens completely unconsciously.

Before the stranger even gets the chance to introduce themselves and reveal their true intentions, you’ve already made up your mind about the type of person you’re meeting. This alone speaks to the importance of dressing well at work.

Study the things that make an impression on you and apply it to yourself. No matter what your particular workspace looks like, when you show up looking prim and proper, people are more likely to approach you, and even more likely to respect you— all before you’ve even spoken a word.

Reason #2: Your confidence matters

Though we’d all like to believe that our burgeoning personalities can be the backbone of our confidence levels, that’s not always the case. Your confidence is more contingent upon your external appearance than you’d probably like to admit, but there’s a certain strength in understanding that about yourself.

If you’ve ever taken the time to read a self-help book about boosting your self-esteem, you’ve probably noticed how frequently authors mention how dressing well can positively affect the way you think about yourself. Rather than settling on a wrinkly shirt for that Monday meeting, wake up 15 minutes earlier to give yourself time to iron it out, and make the right impression on your colleagues and superiors.

You might even consider adding carefully chosen accessories to bolster your appearance. Men’s glasses and women’s heels have the same added effect— heightening your level of refinement with one fell swoop.

When you show up to that meeting, you’ll enter the space feeling bulletproof— no one can talk you down when you’re feeling 100%.

Reason #3: Prove your attention to detail

Silly as it may sound, showing that you care about your appearance also shows your keen attention to detail. Having the ability to craft an outfit is one thing but being able to put together an ensemble that takes color, cut, and texture into account only further proves how well organized and thoughtful you truly are.

To colleagues and bosses, they can sense how well-developed your mental habits are. They are, after all, most interested in your work ethic. The more able you are to present that you’re a responsible human being capable of taking care of business while taking care of yourself, the better.

When all is said and done, the reigning reason to care for your appearance is to take charge of your life.  Well-dressed people can take the way the world perceives them into their own hands and mold it into the most positive perception possible. So, what’s stopping you?