Are You Dressing for Success?

BY Jessica Helinski
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How much thought do you put into your work wardrobe? While it may seem superficial, what you wear DOES matter. “Research has shown that what we wear to work affects the way we are perceived by others and the way we perceive ourselves,” writes Rohini Venkatraman in a recent Forbes article. “For example, people who associate business attire with productivity see themselves as more trustworthy, authoritative, and productive.”

So, what does this mean for you? Casual? Formal? Venkatraman consulted more than 100 of her colleagues at global design company Ideo, and came away with the following insights:

To feel creative, wear outfits that mimic a blank canvas

Freedom breeds creativity, so choose clothing that is not constricting and is made of comfortable, breathable material. Once you have your “canvas,” adorn it with accessories and other personalized details.

To feel professional, choose clothes that mean business

The key to feeling professional is to feel polished without being stiff or overdone. Select items that are tailored, collared, tucked in, and/​or buttoned up. Dressy details, like silky materials and statement watches, finish the look.

To feel productive, be ready to get your hands dirty

Productivity means getting things done. Get into this mindset by wearing something that is comfortable and allows you to work. Materials like cotton and flat shoes can keep you from fussing with your outfit and and help you stay focused on the task at hand.

And, remember, wearing the “right” clothing all comes down to how YOU feel. “No matter what my colleagues or science suggests, remember that you are what you wear,” Venkatraman writes. “So wear something that feels most ‘you.’ If you aren't comfortable in your clothes, you won't be comfortable in your skin.”