It’s an oft repeated adage: get dressed for success, but do our clothes really make a difference to our ability to perform and succeed? There’s no doubt that clothing says a lot about an individual, but does it really determine their success or not? Many studies show that the clothing an individual wears can affect both their mental and physical performance. Although these studies have yet to branch out of the laboratory, there is a significant body of research that suggests that wearing professional attire can have a biological impact on the wearer. In the following article, we’ll dig into this topic and see just kind of a difference – if any – a sharp suit might make to your mindset.
The Case for Suits
Undoubtedly, there are certain professions where particular attire is standard, if not required, in order to succeed. For instance, anyone trying to make a legal career or a career in finance won’t get very far without a tie around their neck. These profession remain doggedly traditional in sartorial terms. Barristers (attorneys) in the UK, for instance, still wear robes – a practice that has its roots in the early medieval period.
Clearly, wearing a suit can also confer a degree of status on the wearer. In recent years, there have been several studies that suggest that wearing smart clothing can have a measurable impact on an individual’s ability to perform. Recent research from the Yale School of Management suggests that dressing for success does have a positive impact on an individual’s ability to perform. The confidence that professional attire conveys can often offset stress or performance anxiety.
However, these studies suggest that the clothing that confers confidence needn’t necessarily be a suit. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, confidence is similarly a matter of subjectivity and only the wearer need know the quality of the clothing worn. The studies suggest that simply smart clothing or even a high quality watch or accessory, can confer much of the same benefits. Especially in combination with a suit, a luxury accessory such as one of the Tissot models from this range, can do wonders in this regard.
To Hoody or Not To Hoody?
Of course, there are outliers; those for whom clothing is the measure of success and status, not an expression of the desire to perform and succeed. For instance, how many times do you see Mark Zuckerberg in a suit? Or Bill Gates in white tie? Leaving monetary wealth aside, those lucky few have reached a pinnacle where they can wear pretty much whatever they want.
Some would argue the goal is to BE RICH, not just to LOOK rich. What do you think?
A lot depends on the type of work that an individual might be doing. Clearly, certain clothes suit certain occasions and professions. Of course, the thought leaders in Silicon Valley work in creative enterprises where it’s commonplace to play around with status symbols, and therein lies the rub. Although careers often determine clothes one might be able or expected to wear, it’s still worth asking: who are we wearing these clothes for? If it’s the case that wearing professional attire has an impact on performance, then I would suggest that’s an attitude in need of changing. Fundamentally, the only person who is entitled to judge the clothes you wear is yourself. It’s simply a matter of mindset; you need to free yourself from those inhibitions and anxieties that might prevent you from performing. The person whose opinion matters most is your own. If you’re comfortable and feel professional, then you’ll feel more able to succeed.
If wearing a suit or smart clothing feeds into the mind-set you need to succeed then by all means do it. What matters is a sense of self-worth and self-respect; the confidence that whatever you might face you can succeed and overcome. Of course, it needn’t to be a suit and, as everyone knows, there are such things as poorly fitting suits. If you want to dress for success, it’s best simply to focus on the fit and quality of your clothing. What we’re talking about is a winning mindset and that, as we’ve written elsewhere, is vital for success.
Conclusion: The Takeaway
In conclusion, wearing professional clothing does make a difference psychologically speaking, but to be truly successful we need to free ourselves from the expectations of others. To be truly successful, you should focus on your own mindset, not dressing to adhere to the expectations of others. What matters is the wearer’s own sense of self-worth; without belief in yourself you can’t succeed.