Dress to impress: the psychology of style in business

You’ve sauntered into your office in a tracksuit looking like Tony Montana’s long-lost brother. It’s not a good look. People have avoided staring at the dark burgundy of your sports jacket, and no one’s mentioned the 15 sovereign rings you’ve somehow managed to fit on your pudgy fingers.

But in the back of their heads, they’re thinking, “What is he wearing?”

This could apply to any age and any gender, and could affect the way you’re perceived in a business environment.

Imagine losing out on a job interview because you chose the wrong dress, or having that promotion escape your grasp because you look too slovenly for a managerial role.

It’d be pretty frustrating. But it’s a problem easily solved – especially if you take a look at our business style tips.

Read the room

Before a gig, stand-up comedians use a technique they call ‘reading the room’. This means they’ll take a look at the audience and make a value judgement on the kind of jokes they’ll enjoy, as well as how to best stoke them into good humour.

While great comedians do this every few minutes to assess a crowd during their set, you only have to do it once in a workplace environment.

If you’re starting a new job, take a look at what everyone else is wearing on your first day. You can then augment your sartorial choices in the future.

This’ll help you fit in easily with your new co-workers, creating a subconscious rapport with them by your dress sense alone.

Use the rule of thumb

It’s fairly easy to guess how people in a certain company will dress. If you’re a stockbroker, then sharp suits are the name of the game. But if you work in a media ore design agency, a t-shirt and jeans will do.

You can use this rule of thumb to ensure that you dress appropriately in any workplace environment, whether you’re starting a new job or attending a meeting.

Don’t go all out

There’s no need to splash the cash on your work outfit. Purchasing something that screams ‘I’M RICH’ will most likely rub your co-workers the wrong way, so choose high-quality brands from the high street.

Whether you want a prom dress for the work’s night out or a power suit, mid-range brands offer you quality and style – and won’t foster jealousy amongst lower paid workers in your organisation.

Be respectful

Wearing your Cannibal Corpse t-shirt might seem appropriate when you’re in the pub, but it doesn’t send the right message to your boss during your nine-to-five.

No matter the dress code in your workplace, respect is a given. Look at how your boss dresses and take that as an implied dress code, even if the formal rules state otherwise. That way, you’ll never be blown off-course by the pinstriped suit you found in a charity shop.

Have you got any sartorial tips for business? Then let us know in the comments below.

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