Dress for Success: How Clothing Choices Affect Your Performance

The most important qualities you should have in order to be successful at your work are your knowledge, skills, enthusiasm and willingness to work and progress. Knowing this, it might seem unfair and even a bit offensive to you that how you dress plays a huge role in job interviews and opportunities for promotion, but that’s the truth. This is partially because your clothes make a giant part of the first impression (it takes only seven seconds for someone to form first impression about you), and partially because they send a message about your professionalism and ambitions. Here is how to make your clothes work for you.

Show That You Mean Business

Clothing can help you feel more confident when presenting big ideas, and it can also make others take you more seriously and be more willing to accept suggestions coming from you, but that is not all. A paper published in 2015 proved that formal business attire increases abstract thinking, which is an important part of creativity and strategizing. Furthermore, formal wear is often linked to feelings of empowerment. So, whenever you feel in doubt, you can suit up. Just think power outfits, such as the ones Clair Underwood wore in House of Cards, and go with solid colors or neutrals.


Make Your Voice Count

Regardless of the line of job you’re in, there will always be a need for negotiating something, with clients, partners, coworkers or managers. If you want your voice to be heard and persuasive, you should wear formal clothing, claims a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. If you don’t want to wear a full-blown suit (jacket, skirt/pants and shirt), you can just follow some basic rules, such as not showing too much skin and not wearing to many details.


Boost Your Self-Confidence

Is there a dress that makes you feel special, or a pair of skinny jeans that make you feel not skinny enough? It’s no wonder, since clothing can actually make you feel good or bad about yourself, depending on what you decide to wear. One of the simplest tricks to feel great in your outfit is to choose the perfect size and cut for your figure. For example, if you have an athletic figure, wear pieces that create illusion of curves (especially on the hips) and if you are oval or diamond shape, consider wearing flattering plus size dresses that embrace your curves and accentuate your assets. As soon as you feel confident about your body, you will be able to feel the same about your work, especially if it includes public performance.

Use Color Psychology

“Knowledge is power”, so get to know color psychology and use it to your advantage. When choosing the color of your outfit, first consider your own emotions. If you need to feel uplifted wear something light, if you want to feel calmer go with something neutral, etc. After, think about the message you are trying to send. Blue is the best option for establishing trust and credibility, red (in details) for assertiveness, dark blue for authority and green for dependability.


Some Rules Are Made to Be Broken

Sure, there are business attire rules that should be obeyed, such as wearing clean and ironed clothes of the appropriate length, but there are others that can be played with. Wear quality shoes, but opt for a bright color to spice up your neutral power suit. Dress up in solid colors, but put on a statement necklace. Dare to break the establishment norms, but do it with style and temperance.


Clothing choices can significantly affect your performance and your success, and you shouldn’t fight this fact. Instead, make it work for you by using clothes to enhance your credentials and pave your way to a better future.

About author:
Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls. She’s passionate about fashion, home décor and healthy living.  Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”


  1. It’s so true, clothes “make” our image, what we first of all try to tell other people, if they don’t know us, and colors do impact on ourselves and other people! Hope you have a very nice weekend!

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