Is What You Wear a Shortcut to Workplace Success?


There is a common conception that in the modern business world, appearances should not matter. In 2023, only 30% of companies specify that their employees must wear formal attire. The other 70% allow their workers to attend work in casual clothing. Yet when it comes to an important meeting or a job interview, we automatically “dress to impress,” an indication that right or wrong, appearance is still important and can be perceived as an indicator of professionalism. With the modern world promoting how individualism is important and appearance doesn’t matter, should businesses continue to adopt a casual dress code or is smart workwear the answer to success?

The science behind casual and formal workwear

Studies have found that 61% of employees are more productive when they wear casual clothing at work. This statistic is enough to convince any boss to relax their dress code. That’s until you discover that researchers have also found that workers who wear formal clothing to work show increased abstract thinking due to them feeling more powerful. To add to this, studies have also revealed that dressing smartly makes workers feel more self-assured which subsequently improves their performance at work. Another advantage of dressing formally for work is that it creates a sense of belonging among colleagues which is essential for maintaining a collaborative and harmonious working environment. 

Better career prospects

41% of employers say they’re more likely to promote a well-dressed candidate than one that dresses more casually. Your clothing isn’t the only thing that can help you succeed in the workplace, though. A research paper from 2021 details how male and female economists with high attractiveness ratings were given better jobs than those rated lower down on the attractiveness scale. Hair color matters too, according to researchers. Various studies have found that blonde women earn more money than women with brunette or red hair. CEOs are also more likely to be blonde as half the female CEOs of S&P 500 companies have blonde hair. Genes and melanin determine hair color. The less melanin you have the more likely you are to be blonde. Worldwide, only 3% of the population are blonde but this number is rising as hair coloring is popular and is done by many women to boost their confidence.

Securing a job

Before you can succeed in a job by dressing smartly, you need to secure it. Even though half of the workforce wears casual clothing at work, it’s never a good idea to turn up to a job interview wearing casual clothes. Experts suggest that you should always dress one level above what everyone else in the business wears. A job interview is your opportunity to make a good first impression and you’ll want to come across as professional and confident, so the clothes you wear matter. A Princeton study backs this up as it found that an interviewee’s competence was judged in less than one second based on what they were wearing. It also found that the more expensive the clothing looked, the better the individual wearing it was perceived. Even when you’ve bagged the job and you’ve started working for the company, it’s best to dress formally, even if others adopt a more casual look. This will give everyone you meet and work with the right impression about you and you’ll stand out from the crowd. 

Setting a good example

As a manager or the boss of the company, you don’t want your employees to dress better than you as it could look as though they take their job more seriously than you do. And, as you have to make big decisions and deal with employee issues daily, you must look and feel the part. Another important thing to consider is that if you dress smartly, your employees are likely to follow your lead which is beneficial to your team and the business. If you’re the big boss and need to strike a big deal or secure funding from the bank, formal workwear is the way to go as it’ll make others take you seriously. You’ll also feel more in control which will help you convince your client or the bank manager to give you what you want.

Although casual workforces are being encouraged in more businesses than ever before, it’s not always the best thing for individuals wanting to improve their career prospects. For this reason, formal and professional workwear remains the recommended option for all professionals.

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