It seems that young Americas clothing of choice is sweatpants and sweatshirts in the winter, and a t-shirt and shorts in the summer. Walk into a college campus or high school, and you will see that the majority of students are dressed in this garb.
What you wear matters. While it is preached to ‘not judge a book by its cover,’ the majority of people do when it comes to your appearance. Numerous studies prove this, and while you may sometimes actively think about a personal appearance, more often you do it subconsciously. Without thinking, you tend to trust, respect and admire people who dress sharper.
Dressing to impress daily has positive impacts on your life. Firstly, you are treated with more respect from others and tend to be regarded in a higher manner. This is especially true with young people, as we are surrounded by a sea of grey sweatshirts and sweatpants. People, especially authority figures, take note of your appearance, especially if you are wearing a well put together outfit. Secondly, you never know who you will meet. Immagine meeting a CEO, or another influential person in a coffee shop, one on one, out of the blue. Would you like to be in a stained t-shirt or a tailored suit? I’d take the latter any day.
On the topic of being young and dressing up, people tend to take you more seriously. I’ve been in situations where because of my appearance, people gave me a chance, even though I was pretty young (usually youth makes people assume that you are less accountable). When people see young business people who present themselves well, they instantly respect them (because you are so much different than the rest of your generation), and sometimes may even go out of their way to help you succeed.
Clothing doesn’t just have effects on what others think about us, it actually effects your interpretation of the outside world. For example, the color red can increase self-confidence and wearing the color may also make you more likely to win physical contests. A CSU study shows that wearing a suit changes the way you perceive objects, events, and other people. It gives you the ability to view and respond to a situation more broadly; not focusing on just the small pieces but on the full picture and acting accordingly. Another study shows that people’s perception of their own responsibility, competence, honesty, reliability, and trustworthiness was heightened when they dressed up. Think of dressing nicely like a real-life ‘power up’.
Well, What Should I Wear?
I’m the last person to ask about fashion advice, but here’s my input (in addition to some research).
- Daily Wear
Wear casual clothing, such as dark jeans, a solid polo shirt and light jacket – tuck in. Don’t under or overdress for an everyday situation such as work, school or a friendly gathering. Research shows that casual wear makes the person more approachable. However, this isn’t a pass for throwing on whatever you see in the dresser. Wearing casual stuff still requires thought, and people notice when the outfit ‘works’. Also, if it’s creased, don’t wear it.
- Formal Wear
I’d say that in business there is no such thing as overdressing. Many business people wear suits, for good reason, but this also makes the two-piece suit commonplace and bland in a business setting. To really set yourself apart from others, wear a three-piece suit. Also, on the topic of suits – tailoring matters. People notice when a suit fits its wearer perfectly, and consequently respect them more. Wear formal when meeting new people who can help you in the future.
Only in the gym, or at home. Please. Why? Because “dressing … carelessly, could cause a worker—or, for that matter, a partner—to feel less focused and less alert.”
Another important piece of the outfit in entrepreneurial business situations (such as meeting investors) are watches. (This is actually a pretty big topic, so to see more information, check out this post.) An old adage states that “in Europe, a businessman is not taken seriously if he is not wearing a mechanical watch.” A quality timepiece paired with a well thought out outfit commands seriousness.
Remember – always dress according to your own style. Add personal flair. People will notice.