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Dress to Impress… Yourself. Can Your Choice of Clothes Make You Better at Your Job?

I’m a big fan of a pair of Chuck Taylor’s. So much so, that after a long stint working in the London media scene meant designer heels and shift dresses were staple I-wanna-be-successful-in-this-big-city career style attire, I found I became confident enough in my work ethic and productivity that I no longer needed to dress for the occasion. Ripped jeans and slogan t-shirts featured more readily in my day-to-day repertoire. For a while I enjoyed the crap out of it. So this is what turning twenty-nine feels like, said twenty-nine-year-old me. I can finally be who I really am – I can choose my own career style! But as time went by and my weekend self didn’t dress all that different to my she-means-business self, I began to feel something was amiss. I mean, did I really mean business or was I just sort of okay about it?

Since returning to work after having my little boy, I have reverted back to my former slightly more style-infused ways. In no way did I want to feel like I was “Mum” while in the office. So weekend-me definitely had to step up. I found the results actually quite impactful to my state of mind. Thinking a little more about the way I dress has actually helped me feel more in control of the cacophony of BS that being a working mum has thrown my way. So I have done a little research to try to get a bit of science behind it and here’s what I found… Turns out, you can dress for success.

Research shows that what you wear has just as much to do with how you’re perceived by others as it does on your focus and productivity:

A study titled Enclothed Cognition by Adam and Galinsky showed that wearing a lab coat described as a doctor’s coat increased sustained attention compared to wearing a lab coat described as a painter’s coat. So the influence of clothes thus depends on wearing them and their symbolic meaning.

“Respondents felt most authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when wearing formal business attire but friendliest when wearing casual or business casual attire.” – Study by Joy V Peluchette & Katherine Karl

So perhaps there is more to this dressing-to-impress lark, but I say, dress to impress yourself. As mums, we can all use a bit of a boost when transitioning from mumlife to worklife and if a pencil skirt and a crisp white shirt is gonna make your eight hours more efficient and help you kick butt… why wouldn’t you?


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