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How Professional Attire Can Affect Your Work Performance

How Professional Attire Can Affect Your Work Performance

Employee Tips / July 15, 2021

Coming out of a global pandemic, when much of the world worked and learned and socialized at home, this is probably a controversial topic. We just spent almost eighteen months wringing productivity out of our pajamas and tie-dye sweats. So don’t tell me our clothes are important! 

But it’s true! It doesn’t have to be a designer suit or really expensive shoes, but when you’re dressed well, you feel good about yourself. Confident. Competent. Motivated. That first impression that you’re driven, conscientious, hard-working. Here’s how your work attire can affect your work performance. 

How Professional Attire Can Affect Your Work Performance

Feel confident 

A good, smart outfit makes you feel more confident and capable. When you look good, you know that people perceive you as someone who’s successful, hard-working, and high achieving. And when you’re perceived that way, you start acting that way. Meanwhile, when you wear tattered, unclean, outdated clothing, or even just a shirt that you know has a stain on it, you tend to focus on the imperfection and assume everyone else is noticing and judging, too. At that point, it’s difficult to concentrate on your work or get a lot accomplished. 

Make strong first impressions 

Besides your outfit, think about your accessories, hairstyle, fragrance, posture, body language, makeup, tone of voice, and voice inflection. Depending on the situation, the person you need to be will change, so dress accordingly. Sometimes you’ll want to be confident and powerful and other days, you’ll want to be warm and friendly. Dress and accessorize the way that will help you become that person. 

Take command of your outfit 

Every detail about your presentation communicates something. As people take note of your appearance, they’re making new judgments every few milliseconds or so—make sure it’s the message you want to be communicating. For example, a tie or nice suit might make you look dependable and experienced, which is perfect for some professional settings, but it also might look snobby or too traditional in a social or creative setting. If you want to look responsible, wear the tie. If you want to look innovative or new-age, ditch the tie. Your outfit can empower you, and if you dress the way you want to feel and be perceived, it can be a really powerful tool in your professional arsenal.

How Professional Attire Can Affect Your Work Performance

Dress for the job you want 

It’s an old saying that you shouldn’t dress for the job you have, but for the job you really want. But as workplaces gradually become more and more casual, is that still true? It seems successful, well-known entrepreneurs and CEOs are often wearing t-shirts and jeans. But the truth is that how you dress does matter. It affects your self-confidence and how people treat you based on the judgments they make when they see your outfit. Here are some tips to help you dress for the job you want. 

Make a good first impression 

According to psychology studies, a person forms an opinion about you within seven to seventeen seconds of first meeting you. And even as they get to know you better, their impression of you will still be mostly colored by that first encounter. Clothing says a lot about you, who you are, and where you want to go. So wear something conservative and professional, so they can make some positive assumptions about you and deem you ready for that promotion. 

Match those around you 

Look around you and assess the dress code. Don’t just look at your peers, check out the higher-ups—the people you aspire to be. Are they wearing suits and ties? Or sweats and a t-shirt? Try to match it. But be selective about your matches. Don’t buy the exact same Brooks Brothers suit as your mentor. That seems obsequious. Find a style that lands you just above the median. 

Take it up a notch 

Up your game just a tad. If you usually sport jeans with a button down, try wearing khakis, corduroys, or wool trousers. You don’t have to wear a suit every day; you can dress up with accessories. Buy some nicer shoes, a string of pearls, a soft cardigan, or a nice blazer. But make it a gradual change. If you go from super casual to finely tailored pinstripe suits overnight, people will talk. Either they’ll make fun of you or they’ll start to whisper about what your true motivations are. No one changes his style that quickly unless they’re looking for a new job. Make it a slow and steady transformation so that your co-workers barely notice. 

How Professional Attire Can Affect Your Work Performance

Invest in your career

Remember that investing in your professional wardrobe means you’ll have those items in your closet for years to come. So it’s especially worth it if that spiffy new outfit is the difference between you getting a promotion or being passed on for someone else. But make sure you’re subtle and reserved about it—don’t be flashy or arrogant. No one wants to help someone who’s already rich or showing off! 

Have some self-respect 

Pay attention to the details of what you wear. Make sure your clothes are ironed or pressed, not wrinkled or dirty. Have them tailored so they fit you and look good on you. And groom yourself each morning to look refined, clean, and razor sharp. Trim your facial hair if you need to, reign in those eyebrow hairs, and get your hair trimmed every few weeks so you always look composed and fresh. Remember that the executives in your company are looking for the next face of the company! 


For more advice on dressing professionally so you can impress and advance your career, check out our website at