Ever notice how when you put on an outfit you love you have an extra pep in your step? According to Vogue, your outfit may alter how you approach and interact with the world.
On the other hand, clothing influences the impressions people have of us, says Psychology Today. A study in the article noted: people rated a man “more confident, successful, flexible and a higher earner in a tailor-made suit than when he wore a high street equivalent.”
What we wear matters, especially in cutthroat work environments. According to NPR, “clothing appears to tap in to peoples’ sense of power.”
The NPR article also citied a study that found “dressing up may put more money in your pocket.” As you work toward dressing to impress or dressing for success, consider these business fashion rules.
Women Specific Business Fashion Rules
Dressing conservatively is key for senior managers. In the study cited by Psychology Today, a manger in a senior level position was rated less favorably when she wore a dress that was provocative, while a conservative look of hers was rated more favorably.
Based off the findings of the study, if you are in a senior position, stick to skirts that are at least knee length and don’t leave any buttons on your blouse undone.
Strategically do your makeup. Wearing makeup can help get you more respect, trust, and power from your co-workers, reports New York Times. “It has long been known that symmetrical faces are considered more comely, and that people assume that handsome folks are intelligent and good,” the article added.
“There is also some evidence that women feel more confident when wearing makeup, a kind of placebo effect,” according to Nancy Etcoff who served as the study’s lead author and is an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard University.
Here’s an example of a work approved makeup look provided by makeup artist Kaitlin Buck of Sherine Joy.
Men Specific Business Fashion Rules
Every man needs a pair of well-kept leather shoes. “Leather shoes are like a Brooks leather bike seat,” says Astrid Brucker, costume and fashion designer. “With wear they become yours and feel custom made for you. Maintaining leather shoes with a bit of mink oil will keep them looking brand new!”
Opt for the knot. Always opt for the classic Windsor knot but go for a half Windsor if you are tall or thinner.
Business Fashion Rules That Apply to Any Gender
Accessories make the man or woman.
The more upscale your clientele, the more it matters what brands you wear – and that includes jewelry and watches. Even items that aren’t often seen inside the office are important.
Make sure your wallet is top class. Go for major brands for every item any customer, employer, or co-worker is likely to see. Even your sunglasses should at least be RayBans, or better yet, one of these brands of sunglasses. Dress as though you are more successful than you are.
All hail the mighty steamer.
It is important to look neat and polished in business. One way to achieve this to make sure your clothes are always neatly pressed and wrinkle free.
Brucker who swears by steamers advises, “Invest in a small steamer. Steaming is less time consuming than ironing and works great on fold lines.”
Dress more formally, see the bigger picture.
Dressing more formally than required by the company you work for can help you see the bigger picture.
In a study cited in the Wall Street Journal, 88 subjects that were tested in formal and casual clothing “were quicker to see the big picture when they dressed more formally. The casual dressers tended to sweat the small stuff.”
Some 86% of women say they are willing to sacrifice some amount of style for comfort, according to a survey of 549 women conducted by Harris Poll for Nielsen, writes The Wall Street Journal.
I never understood this, especially in the workplace! Why would anyone want to wear something that’s uncomfortable, especially when sitting for eight or nine hours a day? You can look professional without being uncomfortable.
Fit is King (or Queen).
“There is no such this as a garment fitting ‘good enough.’ A perfectly fitting garment will transform your look.
An off the rack suit, with alterations will cost you the same as a fully bespoke suit. Spend your money wisely and get it right from the start,” says Amanda Basse, Marketing Coordinator for Alan David Custom, a bespoke tailor located in New York City.
Choose clothing colors carefully.
Wearing colors that blend with your skin and hair color will even out your skin tone, eliminating shadows, says pattern maker and expert Maria Calautti. “When shopping for clothes, get the same garment in different colors. Stand in front of the mirror placing one of the garments in front of you then place the other; look at it and remove them.
Switch them around and do it again.” Calautti advises repeating this a couple times. “You will be surprised at the changes in your face which at first are subtle, but as your brain starts to process the whole thing, the changes are more evident.”
Some people may argue that there are no rules in fashion, but let’s face it – you can’t go into most offices in short shorts or flip flops and expect to get respect. The rules listed here are just a guide based off extensive research. At the least, if you follow any, I hope they help you feel more confident at work.
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