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As the seasons change, so do your clothes: How Dressing professionally can help level up your career

You’ve probably heard the advice to “dress the part” for work or even “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” But when you’re getting dressed in the morning, you may wonder whether your attire actually has any impact on your work life.

It turns out that it does! Let’s talk about the ways that dressing professionally can affect your work experience.

1. It leaves a positive impression.

The first and most obvious reason to dress professionally at work is to leave a positive impression on the people you see day to day. Whether that’s your fellow team members, company managers or executives, or clients and partners, the reality is that your appearance sends a message about how you’re showing up to these interactions. Dressing the part ensures that the impression you’re leaving is positive.

2. It boosts your own professional confidence.

Many people feel that dressing the part boosts their own confidence, making them feel more aligned with their role and the responsibility they hold. One study even found that people who were assigned to wear a doctor’s white coat to perform random, non-medical tasks made fewer errors than those wearing street clothes. You may find a similar confidence when you dress intentionally at work.

3. It ensures that you’re taken seriously.

While you may not intend to judge someone’s ability based on what they’re wearing, the reality is we all make these micro-assessments and are subject to these biases on a daily basis. You may find that when you start dressing more professionally at work, people are more receptive to your ideas and take your work more seriously.

4. It improves your motivation and productivity.

Similar to boosting your confidence at work, you may find that you feel more motivated and inspired to get work done when you’ve dressed the part. Sometimes, dressing the part provides the little mental shift that you need to transition into “work mode” for the day. Just as walking into the office provides a mental cue that you’re about to get solid work done, dressing the part helps set you up for success.

5. It helps earn promotions and leadership roles.

Last but certainly not least, all the factors above can ultimately help you earn promotions and leadership roles within your company. When you’re taking more seriously, doing better work because you feel more motivated, and feeling like a part of the team, you’re more likely to be recognized for raises and increased responsibility. One Yale study had participants explore a mock negotiation process, and those dressed in suits raked in a profit of $2.1 million, compared to just $680,000 for those dressed in sweatpants. Your clothes may have more of an impact on your compensation than you realize!

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