The Greater Impact of Dressing for Success

I was listening to NPR last week, and thought their piece on Dressing for Success was excellent. My motto has always been, “Just because anything goes, doesn’t mean it should apply to you.” Here are some of the highlights.

Clothing changes interaction dynamics

We’re all aware that the way we dress and present ourselves has an impact on the way others see us. But what’s more, that can have a real impact on the outcome of our interactions with others. In a 2014 study, Yale researcher Michael Kraus matched a group of men in suits against another group of men in sweatpants and flip-flops in mock real estate negotiations. The men in suits performed better by far, in part because of the way the people they were negotiating with perceived them.

What we wear influences how we feel

But it’s not just other people’s perceptions we have to think about – it’s how we perceive ourselves, as well. A study by California State University researcher Abraham Rutchick found that when you’re dressed a notch better than those around you, you’re likely to think more expansively and abstractly — in other words, more like a leader. This, he says, is because the positive cognitive effects of being well dressed help you to feel better about yourself.

Clothes are your tools

Similarly, according to style coach Lauren Rothman, it’s important to create a presence that both impresses others and helps you to feel more confident about yourself. As she says, “When you work with a leadership coach, they’re going to give you tactics on what to use in the boardroom to help others believe in you. When you work with a style coach like me, I’m giving you all the answers on how you can make yourself feel better. “

This is not to say that the clothes make the person, of course. But having a strong sense of style can give you the confidence boost you need to perform at your best.