The psychology of dressing well. How we dress says more about us than we might think. In fact, scientists have proven in multiple studies that there is actual psychology behind the age-old adage, “Look good, feel good,” and the even more popular, “Dress for success.” What does this tell us? It tells us that what we wear affects not only how others view us, but how we view ourselves.
Take for an example the last time you were walking down the street and you saw a sharply dressed gentleman coming your way. What ran through your mind? What were your immediate assumptions? I can tell you what mine would be. “Man, that guy looks like he’s got his life together. He seems really successful. There is something about him that commands respect.” The same holds true for a really well-dressed woman. “Wow, she seems so put-together. I bet she’s really organized. I would love to look that classy and elegant.” While none of us wants to think we are so superficial as to make these kinds of snap judgments of people based on their clothing, think back to that time you went to the gym wearing a brand new outfit. How did you feel? Did you notice a difference in your confidence levels? Did you maybe push harder in your workout or feel a sense of pride when you caught a glimpse of yourself in the gym mirror? If what we wear carries so much power, don’t you think we should be figuring out how best to maximize that?
What do your clothes say about you?
“Dressing well is a form of good manners.”
You can definitely bet that your clothing choices have a direct impact on how people perceive you. You might be seen as grubby and unkempt because you keep wearing that old stained tee you don’t want to get rid of. Or maybe as someone who is very minimalistic and methodical because you wear the same four outfits over and over again.
And hey, maybe that doesn’t bother you. After all, how much stock should we really be putting in other people’s opinions of us? Not too much, we could probably all agree on that. But it might surprise you how much your daily life could shift if you learned how to optimize this seemingly superficial tool that we all have at our disposal.
So, maybe it’s time for some self-reflection. Start by taking an honest look at your current wardrobe and ask yourself these questions:
- What types of clothing do I own?
- What do I find myself gravitating towards the most?
- Am I holding onto old clothing because it holds sentimental value?
- Do I take the time to think out outfits and plan what I am going to wear?
- Does my wardrobe need an overhaul?
After asking yourself these questions, you may find yourself learning some things about yourself you never knew before!
You might realize that you’re unorganized and scatter-brained and that’s why your clothing is all over the place and you never know which end is up when it comes to the latest trends or styles. Or maybe you realize you have been stuck in the past for the last few years, holding onto clothing from ten years ago, simply because you don’t want to let it go. Maybe you realize it’s time to upgrade and put some more thought into your daily attire.
Tips On Dressing For Success
“Looking good isn’t self-importance; it’s self-respect.”
Your clothing is a tool that can be used to represent who you are. Do you want to come across as confident and sophisticated, somebody who looks like they know what they are talking about? Maybe you want to showcase your warmth and charisma. Maybe you are vying for a promotion and want your boss to know that you mean business. If you’re looking for some outfit ideas for yourself (or your man), here are the Essential Men’s Fashion Pieces for Both Business and Casual Wear.
Whatever your motivation, dressing well is a hallmark of elegance, so why not take advantage?
- Start by defining your vision of what a successful person in your sphere would look like, act like, dress like. Would they be dressed in streamlined, tailored suits? Would their clothing complement their particular line of work? Would they always look put-together and organized in well-matched attire?
- Purge your closet of whatever is outdated, has holes, doesn’t fit, or doesn’t represent that vision of success you have. Chuck the holey jeans or the stretched out blazer you’ve been wearing for five years. You don’t need it anymore!
- Shop the classics. There’s a reason The Little Black Dress will never go out of style. It’s a tried-and-true article that works for almost any occasion, is not dependent on your age, and anyone can wear it. What other classic items could you integrate into your wardrobe? How about a tailored pair of trousers? A well-fitting suit? A streamlined blouse? A fitted button-down?
- Choose colors that complement your skin tone. Avoid garish colors or obnoxious patterns. Make sure you have a few basic neutral-toned items in your wardrobe that you can mix-and-match to create multiple outfits.
- Have your clothing tailored or custom-made. While not everyone can afford custom-made clothing, finding an affordable tailor is not so difficult. You can get away with buying a slightly ill-fitting article of clothing for sale and have it tailored to fit you perfectly and save money that way. The point is, make sure your clothing fits you well. Nothing screams unprofessionalism than badly fitting clothes. By the same token, make sure you have properly fitting undergarments. A too-tight bra will show through your clothing, as will a badly seamed pair of underwear.
- Press, iron, or dry-clean your clothing. Don’t wear wrinkled clothing. An ironed shirt automatically ups your professionalism by ten points.
- Polish and shine your shoes. A dying art, this practice brings an immediate sense of cleanliness and sheen to any outfit.
- Quality over quantity. It’s worth investing in slightly more expensive clothing than having a whole closet full of cheap-looking clothing. (But if you have to buy cheap, go for dark colors. It’s easier to conceal the quality of the fabric.) Quality clothing fits better, looks better, and instantly gives you a more sophisticated, respectable air.
↓ Does Your Clothing Reflect Your Personality?
“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress. Dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”
You may be the girl that never cared much about what you wore, and so you grabbed whatever was cleanest from your bedroom floor before dashing out the door. Or maybe you’re the guy that can’t break free from the oversized tee shirt and baggy jeans rut, despite trying to for the last five years.
The simple truth is (and studies confirm this), our clothing speaks volumes about our personalities. If you tend to be lazy and undisciplined, you may find yourself wearing yesterday’s clothing a lot, or raggy tee shirts you have had since you were a teenager. If you are a trend-follower, of course, your wardrobe is going to reflect all the latest styles and fashions. If you are methodical and routine-oriented, you probably stick to very basic, functional pieces.
But what we wear has a huge impact on how we think about ourselves and even how we behave. It’s extremely likely that you’ll find you walk with more poise and confidence when you are dressed smartly. You may experience a surge of motivation when you are dressed in cute, matching activewear at the gym. You may find yourself interacting more and being more assertive at a work event when your clothing is sharp and sophisticated. When you are down and glum, putting on a brightly colored clothing may lift your mood, whereas wearing grungy, worn-out sweats and dark colors might contribute to you feeling more depressed.
The more you think about it, the more fascinating this whole clothing thing becomes. Of course, your shoes are as important as your outfit when you want to dress well so do check out our earlier posts on Men’s Business Casual Shoes Guide and Best Business Casual Shoes For Women.
↓ The Benefits of Dressing Well
“Character. Intelligence. Strength. Style. That makes beauty.”
Diane Von Furstenberg
1. Develop Confidence
Dressing well inevitably leads to increased levels of confidence. When you look good, you’ll feel good. You stand a little taller; you walk with a little bit more pep in your step. When you enter a room, people can’t help but notice you. This will all translate to how you view yourself.
Ever heard the saying, “You got to fake it till you make it?” Dressing well is like putting fuel into the engine of your confidence levels. Once that engine is going (the “fake it” stage) you may start noticing that confidence is coming more naturally to you; you develop more respect for yourself; you treat yourself with a little bit more respect…
2. Gain Respect
“Dress how you wish to be dealt with.”
… which leads to other people treating you with more respect. People respect those who respect themselves. If you carry a sense of self-confidence, you will inevitably find that other people view you differently.
So, what does it mean to be shown respect? Well, maybe it’s new tones of deference in people’s voices; maybe it is new shades of admiration in their eyes. Maybe people start asking you for your opinion more often. Maybe your boss looks twice at you when he walks past your office. However it manifests in your life, we can guarantee that you’ll start noticing it sooner or later.
3. Feel Better About Yourself
It may seem obvious but when you dress better, you feel better about yourself.
Maybe you have always been insecure. Maybe you dislike the way certain clothes fit. Maybe you’ve been down in the dumps about your appearance lately and need a makeover.
Whatever the case, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will notice an immediate difference in how you feel about yourself the minute you start to dress better. Because your perception of yourself is changing, the way you feel about yourself changes, too. You’ll feel more hopeful and motivated to take care of yourself (self-care, baby!) and treat yourself just a little bit kinder.
And hey, we could all use some of that.
4. Showcase Your Personality
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”
Dressing well provides the optimal opportunity to really let your best self shine forth. Whether that means letting your playful and feminine sideshow or letting your love for neutral colors shine, how you dress makes a statement about the kind of person you are. So what kind of statement are you making?
Don’t feel limited by the clothing you put on your body. How you dress is an incredible means to let yourself be who you really are. Are you poised and put-together? Are you elegant and classy? Are you organized and professional?
Take some time today to decide how your wardrobe is going to best represent you from here on out.
Shop this look for under $150
“Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing, and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.”
At the end of the day, what we wear says a lot more about us than what we might have thought. It affects how we feel, how we view ourselves, and even how others view us.
If we want to feel better about ourselves… if we want to have more confidence and command more respect… then it behoves us to put a little more thought into this whole “dressing well” thing. Because dressing well, as we have learned, is a hallmark of self-respect. It creates opportunities to be noticed in a more positive light. It opens up doors that we may have once thought were closed.
Don’t forget that dressing well goes hand in hand with success. So, if you are looking to become a more rounded, successful, put-together individual, it just might be that your first step is to take a little look in that closet of yours. What have you been wearing and what can you change?
All it takes is one little step to change your life.
R.H. Elias is a freelance writer, aspiring author, and freelance transcriptionist. She is a homebody all the way and loves curling up on a cold, rainy day with a good book and a warm cup of tea. Her favourite pastimes include reading, writing, and watching period films. She currently lives in Puerto Rico.