As the old adage goes, ” we must learn to dress as prospects, not suspects”!
How is your day shaped by the clothes you wear? How different do you feel when you are rocking out in your finest attire versus the standard jeans and t-shirt?
I think we both can agree that we have a little bit more bounce in our step when we take the extra time with our dress, but where does this extra boost in confidence come from?
As we evolve and redefine ourselves over the years our dress code usually follows suit (no pun intended) as a leading indicator of our newly formed essence. I am all for individualism but I think it is very important to really take a gander at what your clothes are really projecting to the world. Considering we still live in a very critical world filled with rash judgements, what image do you portray to the typical onlookers that you pass on the street? More importantly, what roles are you filling when wearing certain items of clothing?
Take for instance the study done by The Kellogg School of Management (a top 10 globally recognized business school) where they found that students performed much better and maintained more concentration when they put on a scientist lab coat. Most of us would look to a lab coat with little significance, but clearly there is much more to it. When students were lead to believe that the same lab coat was a painters jacket the same increase in concentration and testability were then not found. A simple change in label of the same item of clothing made incredible impact on perception and performance. The study goes on to prove a strong positive correlation between the dress we wear and altered thinking that would be consistent with the outfit. We essentially morph into a new character with different skill sets with a simple change of wardrobe (amazing, isn’t it?). It’s hard not to acknowledge the power of stereotypes and the unconscious mind after these prime examples of perception change. Labelling a jacket a scientist lab coat instead of a painters jacket made all the difference when it came to their performance because students wanted to fill the role of an academic and it clearly paid off for them.
To further back up this notion of behaviour change based solely on perspective, take the findings from a study done by the University of Virginia on golf putting performance. If students were given a putter and told that it was used by a known professional golfer they perceived the hole on the green they were putting on was larger. This in turn resulted in more puts sank compared to the putter that did not belong to the pro.
We fill the role that our clothes and accessories and are attributed to. With this knew knowledge in place would you not then assume the same to be true when it comes to any dressing down? When dressing like a slob, and we all have days like this; would you not then assume peoples beliefs to be of lower energy, lower performance and inadequacy?
Many of you may be getting defensive at this point due to your love for your Lululemon pants, but let’s try to look at this with a little bit more realism. Holding that “I don’t care what you think about me” attitude, might bring you much more negative impact than you are ready to acknowledge in life. If people size you up within the first five seconds of meeting you, what does your outfit say to them? It may be the difference between you getting that management position, moving up the corporate ladder, and not. Discipline my friends, discipline!
Who likes to receive the best service and be treated with the utmost respect? I hope all of you are raising your hand right now, because you absolutely deserve it.
But seriously, think about it for a minute or two. Are you being treated differently based on how you present yourself to the world via fashion? I think back to my earlier days, working in customer service and I can honestly say without a doubt that I treated people differently according to their dress. I unconsciously would adjust the way I handled people as they came through the check out based on rash judgements. Not that I would ever admit to feeling subservient to a very well dressed business person, but my body language and more refined dialogue said it all. It’s like when the big wigs from corporate come through and we all have to sharpen up our mannerisms for a few hours, striving for perfection and validation for those brief interactions because clearly our regular working habits weren’t up to snuff. We shape ourselves for the activity at hand, thespians in disguise. It has been so ingrained through social roles and the media that people who dress in formal attire generally hold stronger social positions. As a result of this education we then of course serve these people with more care. This is not just some rash assumption I’m making, but a tested reality that plagues most of us.
So when getting dressed for work in the morning, be mindful of the psychological impact that your clothes may be having on your day. Your whole experience for the day can be altered from a small adjustment in attire. If your day is filled with meetings and functions where new relationships will be established, you might consider bringing out your finest Egyptian cotton shirts. If you want to be perceived as the funky creative type, then match your clothes with hype and flare. For those of you seeking for attention and authority, a fine tailored suit is suggested. The bottom line is that we can’t always hold a lackadaisical view on our wardrobe and those the trips to Hot Topic for casual wear might need to be placed on hold inevitably=)
Do you have any experiences in life that have clearly proven these theories?
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players. So what role do you want to play today?