Dressing Well in the Workplace: How to Skip False Pretenses and Dress Like You Mean It

With the rise in popularity in athleisure and ever-changing cultural norms, “Sunday Dress” is quickly disappearing only to be replaced with the more comfortable and practical yoga pants.

And though most of us faithfully believe that leggings ARE pants, our apparel still says a lot about our professionalism in the workplace.

So until one of us is making well over six figures without ever having to meet face to face with a client, our appearance still matters.

Here’s why.

What you wear determines your first impression

And though first impressions aren’t everything in your relationships, they do matter at work. Chances are, you’re not going to have the opportunity to pour your heart out over a cup of coffee with everyone you work with. So what you wear sets the tone.

The Harvard Study of Communications states that 37 percent of your first impression is made up of how you sound, 7 percent is the words that you actually say, and the remaining 55 percent is visual. That includes the way you stand, your body language, and of course, what you wear.

Especially when meeting with potential clients and prospects, your clothing matters.

Your clothing incites inner confidence

What you wear builds internal confidence. Skip past the superficial element. Your clothes don’t have to be from Ann Taylor or JoS A Bank, or any other store most of us are lucky to maybe have one token article of clothing from.

Your clothes just need to be clean, fit you well, and make you feel confident in whatever capacity that looks like. Your inner confidence and poise will shine through all that you do, so choose clothes that make you feel 110 percent confident while you’re in them.

So maybe it’s time for a purge. Dedicate one day on your calendar next month, and take care of yourself. Make sure you look ready for a night out and start trying on and sorting all of the clothes you do have. If you’re dressed up and don’t “love them,” sort them in a pile. Take them straight to Plato’s closet, sell what you can, and donate the rest. Then, give yourself a budget to go and buy some versatile pieces that you completely love.

A more minimalistic wardrobe will overwhelm you less, and give you more confidence in the pieces you know you can’t live without. You’ll have less stress getting ready for work in the morning, and a wardrobe you know you’ll love.

Dressing well demonstrates that you care about what you do, and shows you respect yourself

Ever see anyone walk in the office that doesn’t communicate this message? Or even at the grocery store? Though we all love being comfortable, the way that you dress, especially at work, communicates your passion and respect. If you don’t take yourself seriously, why should your direct supervisor qualify you for a promotion? When you dress with professionalism, your value of yourself and company will shine through.

Your apparel communicates your message

No matter who you are, you have a message. You have something to say. Whether it’s a passion, a purpose, or a plan for growth, your apparel helps communicate that message.

Dressember is a great example of this. During the month of December, women around the world wear dresses to condemn the stigma that dresses indicate frailty in women and chooses to change that perception, while creating awareness for trafficking, standing in the place of other women who can’t stand for themselves.

Though your message doesn’t have to be a full-fledged campaign, we all have something to say. In the workplace, that matters. So, dress accordingly.

What you wear is a form of expression

As our culture shifts, so does our attire – and today we have more options than ever when it comes to what we wear. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to express oneself, and our clothing gives us this ability to do so in any capacity we are in. You don’t have to be the loudest person in the room to communicate how you feel, and expression gives the opportunity to do just that. Find creative ways to express yourself in your clothing – and you’ll stand out at work.

Your clothing gives an impression of success

No one likes a false pretense, but your clothing doesn’t have to be. Think of the way you dress as a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if you don’t feel successful yet, what you wear can help you begin to see yourself as such, and those around you will catch on. 

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