How You Dress Impacts Your Success

The only person you should dress to impress is yourself...not.

By Lynn Han

October 5 2018

The only person you should dress to impress is yourself...not.

In the career world, how your colleagues and superiors label (pun intended) you at work can be as frivolous as the Rolex Submariner dangling off your wrist or those Mont Blanc cufflinks peeking from under your Boss sleeves.

Sorry, the truth hurts.

After all, studies have shown that how you dress at work can influence others’ perception of you: your financial success, authority, trustworthiness, intelligence, even suitability for promotion. Since perception is often reality, what you wear not only commands who you are in the minds of others, it also influences your level of career advancement.

Hence, yours truly has put together a briefer-than-brief list of four reasons why you should, essentially, suit up and step into that coveted office space with those customised Ferragamo shoes. All set?

1. How you dress affects you

There’s a line that goes: “Manners maketh a man.”

As it turns out, clothes do too. According to a university study conducted, participants in formal wear compared to those in informal wear displayed feelings of power and increased abstract thinking - an important aspect of long-term strategizing. Abstract thinking makes for good problem-solving skills and is helpful when receiving criticism, allowing the receiver to take a step back than letting it affect their self-esteem. As Abraham Rutchick, one of the authors of the study, puts it: “Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world”. So tighten that Armani tie and straighten up, because your peers are finally going to see you as the confident leader you are.

2. How you dress affects how others treat you

In many work settings, securing a deal for one’s organisation can make or break a career. With such stakes in mind, it was found that informal clothing could actually hurt in such negotiations. In one study reported, male participants in formal suits negotiating with a partner obtained more profitable deals than those in casual wear or sweats. The latter groups also displayed lower testosterone levels, or lower sexual energy than the first group. Now that’s something we absolutely can’t have, can we?

3. Colours play a role too

While this doesn’t mean flipping through fifty shades of grey, subtle nuances in colour has been found to significantly impact our moods and how others respond to us. Researchers discovered that colors could even change one’s heart rate, blood pressure and respiration! Paint the town red or be cool and blue? In one study inspired that winning combat fighters in the 2004 Olympics had worn red more often than blue, researchers carried out a study competing male athletes in red against those in blue. Compared with fighters in blue, those in red lifted heavier weights before the match and had faster heartbeats during the match.

At work, choose solid, neutral tones like white, black, navy, grey and brown, as these easily mix and add a sense of style and refinement to one’s wardrobe, compared to more outstanding colours like yellow and orange. 

4. It shows your commitment to excellence

The final point about dressing sharp can be distilled into one word: excellence. The word “excellence” comes from the Latin “excellere” which meant: to rise, surpass and be eminent. Dressing well means to rise above social norms, to show a deep sense confidence and respect, not only in oneself but towards others. While there is a time and place for casual wear, nothing screams “success!” in modern day times like a well-pressed, tailored suit.

To dress well means to excel and surpass the norms.

And you, my friend, are about to do just that.

Time to Suit Up! :)


Real Men Real Style - 5 Reasons To Dress Sharp | Style Tips For Young Men

Telegraph - Why men who wear suits are more successful

Scientific American - Dress for Success: How Clothes Influence our Performance

Huffington Post - What the Color You're Wearing Says About You

The Essential Man - A Beginner’s Guide: 16 Essential Style Tips For Guys Who Want to Dress Better