Dress for Success — Fascinating Ways Clothing Could Influence Professional Perception


Everyone has heard the saying, “You are what you eat,” but you’ve probably never heard people say, “You are what you wear.” While this phrase may sound over-the-top, there’s no denying the importance of appearance in the professional world. 

Your clothing choices will impact the subconscious mind in many ways, especially when you’re interacting with clients for the first time. Knowing a bit about “clothing psychology” could significantly boost your chances of closing a deal.

Clothing Considerations for Professional Attire

Use “Color Psych” to Send the Right Signals 

Color patterns are one of the most psychologically potent aspects of our wardrobe. Fashionistas, artists, and interior designers are all well aware that different color combinations give off different emotional responses. 

Master Style Coach and Personal Brand Strategist Mary Michele Nidiffer explains how lawyers can use color psychology to impact perception in a meeting with a client or at a hearing in the courtroom. that blue is often associated with trust, while black is linked with severity and authority. Also, specific colors may have deep cultural associations that could give off unique perceptions (e.g., green translates to wealth).

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to give a one-to-one comparison between each color and a specific emotional response. As you may remember from Art 101, every color has complementary and contrasting resonances on the color wheel. The full effect of your color choices depends on whether you use bold contrasts or subdued complementary styles. While building your professional outfit, it’s an excellent idea to analyze how famous artists and advertisers use colors to motivate you or how color combinations make you feel as a viewer. 

You should also consider using your eye color in your wardrobe. This simple hack helps your eyes sparkle, which will make it easier for clients to maintain eye contact. 

Simplify Your Style — The Value ff Minimalist Wardrobe 

Typically, the simpler your style choices, the more likely you’ll be perceived as an authority figure. In fact, many of the world’s most successful people wear shockingly similar wardrobes every day. A key reason for this has to do with time. As the saying goes, “Time is money.” People who have a serious drive to get things done don’t want to spend hours in the closet. While this doesn’t mean you have to be dull and drab, you should be careful about over-accessorizing your wardrobe. 

Generally, the most successful attires are carefully thought out and don’t have dozens of frills. Also, the bolder your design choices are, the more careful you have to be in a professional environment. Generally, bright colors and sharp patterns are ideal for casual wear, but not super professional in a work environment. 

“Fake It ‘Till You Make It” — How Clothes Affect Behavior 

Believe it or not, there is some science behind the meme “Fake it ‘till you make it.” For instance, recent studies suggest that consciously smiling more often will improve your mood. Interestingly, you could also use your clothing to get your subconscious mind in “work mode.” 

One of the wildest studies looking into this theory took place at Northwestern University. Two groups were given the same white lab coats and asked to perform the same task. Interestingly, the people who thought they were wearing a doctor’s coat rather than a painter’s smock were far more conscientious. 

The easiest way to use this hack to your advantage is to wear clothes that inspire confidence. Choosing clothes you associate with power, authority, and professionalism should positively affect your mood, even if you’re in a rut. The simple act of getting dressed carries a ton of psychological weight, so be sure to keep this in mind if you’re working from home. 

Written by Megan Taylor
Megan is a beauty expert who is passionate about all things makeup and glam! Her love for makeup has brought her to become a beauty pro at Glamour Garden Cosmetics.