First impressions are an inevitable part of life. Every day we make judgement calls about people we come into contact with. First impressions are made within seven seconds and are rarely overturned. As superficial as it seems, these impressions are based largely on appearance. What you wear matters. Not only does the way you dress impact others’ perception of you, it influences the way you feel about yourself. Which is why the age-old slogan ‘dress for success’ has become so well-known – because it’s true.

Does dressing for success really work?

Studies have shown that wearing nice clothes in the office can have a widespread effect. Presentation influences perception, confidence and even abstract thinking. Anyone who owns a power outfit knows that the right clothes can be a big confidence booster. There have been multiple studies on the correlation between a person’s presentation and their performance.

A survey published by the Centre of Professional Excellence (CPE), found that two-thirds of business leaders agreed image played a major role in getting ahead. As part of the national poll, CPE also discovered ‘appearance’ ranked second only to ‘communication skills’ for qualities most often associated with professionalism.

“How an individual dresses for work can be a powerful extension of [their] personal brand,” says Matthew Randall, executive director of the CPE. “Clothes, accessories and even the footwear an employee chooses to wear help to reinforce or diminish [their] skills and qualities in the eyes of [their] employer, co-workers and clients.”

Similarly, a 2012 study found subjects who dressed in doctor’s lab coats performed better on attention-related tasks than those without lab coats, in fact they made half as many mistakes as their coatless counterparts.

As another example, study participants were asked to change into casual or formal clothing before performing a number of cognitive tests. Those wearing formal business attire had a marked increase in abstract thinking. This kind of thinking is an important feature of creativity and long-term strategising. The experiment also suggested that this increase is related to feelings of power in the well-dressed subjects. So how can you dress for success?

How to do it right

  1. Know your workplace

Business is an everchanging enterprise and knowing your workplace is essential to dressing for success. If your company adheres to corporate-attire, then your power outfit certainly will not comprise of jeans and a t-shirt – no matter how comfortable. Likewise, if your workplace is more laid-back then you run the risk of overdressing which can be just as uncomfortable. Make sure you follow any presentation guidelines in place, emulate your coworkers or, if in doubt, do not be afraid to ask!

  1. Comfort

As we noted above, dressing appropriately is fluid and dependant on your company. However, comfort should always be a factor in the clothes you choose. Dress for fit and function as well as fashion. If you are mobile all day, then towering heels may be best left for when you are sitting at your desk. Pull out your favourite button up on a day you know will be particularly stressful. If you are dressed comfortably, then you can focus on your task rather than your outfit.

  1. Be yourself

The way you dress is the first insight people get into who you are. While you should abide by your company’s guidelines for presentation, do not lose yourself in them. Find your own office style and add some personal flair to your wardrobe. Business does not mean boring.

Start every day by dressing for success. Whether you have an important meeting, or you have landed the interview for your dream job, presentation is essential for your personal brand. This month, you can dress to impress and put these tips to the test with Victory Offices. We are offering our members one-hour of complimentary meeting room hire. So, pull on your power outfit and walk in with confidence.