What Your Work Outfit Says About You

work psychology

Your wardrobe choices say a lot about you. Your dress preferences may convey social messages about your identity. For centuries, certain clothes were used to represent a specific tribe, culture, occupation, or even a status symbol. Today, your choice of clothing people may influence people to make judgments about your social rank and your spending habits.

Dress psychology deals with how the way people dress influences their thoughts, feelings, and actions. The image you convey with your clothes can actually impact your behaviors and influence your perceived self-image. It may also impact the behavior of the people around you.

For this reason, if you want to increase your chances of climbing the corporate ladder, changes in your closet may be a great idea. However, prior to revamping your wardrobe, it’s important to know what your work outfit says about you.

1. Your Type of Profession

You may wonder why employees working in banks, accounting, and law firms wear business formal attire. This is because clothes are often used to denote people’s role in the company, their contribution to society, and the nature of their work. For example, it is not uncommon to see medical providers wearing scrub suits, engineers wearing hard caps, and chefs wearing an apron. 

Certain types of clothing are also designed to supply protection. They are used to safeguard workers from a variety of health and safety risks as they carry out their job. Common PPE safety gear can include scrubs tops for women and men, safety boots, helmets, gloves and specialized work clothes. 

Apart from this, researchers have reported that clothing may encourage the wearer to exude the traits implied by the uniform. For instance, a study claimed that subjects who wore lab coats during a certain experiment manifested qualities such as increased conscientiousness and keenness that are usually associated with a doctor. 

Another study conducted by the Social Psychological and Personality Science reported that during an experiment, subjects who wore formal business attire exuded power and control in a situation. Likewise, they manifested increased levels of intellect and creativity. Clearly, wearing an appropriate uniform may establish feelings of professionalism and pride.

2. Your Preferences

dress psychology

Often the dress style that you opt for reveals your priorities and preferences. Perhaps this becomes most obvious on casual Fridays at work. Employees who prefer to wear shirts and khakis may prioritize comfort. A woman who likes to wear form-fitting clothes may want to display her sense style and boost her confidence. Consequently, she may tend to purchase the latest fashion trends and showcase them at the office. 

On a typical workday though, employees want to appear professional and practical. As a result, they usually tend to wear business casual attire. For men, this may include a suit and tie. On the other hand, ladies may wear a skirt and a blouse paired with a watch.

There are other employees who prefer not to attract external attention. For this reason, they may opt to wear work clothes that are modest and non-descript.

Although you may have your personal preferences, you still need to follow your company’s guidelines regarding basic attire etiquette. Sending the right nonverbal cues is critical, especially when you’re meeting clients every day. External judgments and impressions are initially gathered from the way you present yourself—and when you’re at work, you’re representing both yourself and your company’s values. 

For this reason, it’s important to have a standard when it comes to choosing your work outfits. Decide on a work outfit that reinforces professionalism. Moreover, try to strike a balance between your preferences and the company’s standards.

3. Your Personality

Your wardrobe expresses various facets of your personality and perspectives on life which you may not be aware of. Clothes offer others an impression of who you are. According to research on color psychology, your preferred outfit colors can influence your mood. For instance, bright colors may boost your energy. If you sense that you’re going to have a bad day, it may be a good idea to put on your brightest colored blazer and see if it improves your mentality. A few interesting observations on the impact of color are noted below:

  • Black

People who opt for black clothes are said to have personality traits that often include determination, audacity, ambition, prestige and purpose. Black is a color that reinforces authority, mystery, and seriousness. 

People who wear black may also want to mask their emotional tendencies and prioritize significant issues at hand. For this reason, corporate employees may prefer to wear black clothing during crucial events such as meetings and negotiations.  

Men and women who predominantly wear black are often perceived as dominant, intimidating, and aggressive. If you always wear black, don’t be too surprised if your colleagues and clients view you as someone who isn’t approachable.   

  • Brown

People who opt for brown tones in their wardrobe tend to be slightly conservative, respectful, and strong. Brown represents the color of the Earth; hence, it’s regarded as reliable and sturdy. In a meeting with predominantly male colleagues, a female employee who wears a brown suit may exude credibility, reliability, and intelligence.

  • Green

People who prefer green clothes may be generous, caring, and gentle. This color presents freshness, security, and peace. It’s also associated with financial abundance. Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, claimed that green denotes a feeling of harmony and contentment due to its links with the colors of nature.

Summing It Up

Your work outfit speaks volume about your profession, personality, and preferences. Also, your outfit choices may affect how the world views you. So, if you plan to climb the corporate ladder, subtle changes in your outfit may influence the opportunities that are given to you. 

By taking the time to choose your outfits daily, you may help influence your career trajectory and ensure that you’re achieving the goals you’ve set out for yourself and your career. It’s a great way to kick-start positive improvements in the office.