Looks may not be everything, but they can have a significant effect on multiple success factors in the business world

Does what you wear to work make a difference?

There are many aspects of business that are out of our control. But our physical appearance is something we can have a direct impact on.

For years, this has lead to different styles of business clothing and a deeply ingrained belief in the significance of our attire. Dressing smart is hailed as a means to give a good first impression, to feel more confident, to work more efficiently, to impress potential clients and to seal deals that otherwise wouldn’t happen.

The problem is that the standards of conducting business change constantly. They vary depending on the requirements of different companies and their unique professional environments.

So what counts as “dressing for success”? Business casual, formal, casual, uniforms, Pyjama Fridays? The reality is that professional clothing might be both incredibly important and negligibly beneficial. Values change based on differing circumstances. In light of this, you should leverage the powers of a smart appearance in the ways that are most natural and feasible for you.

Here are three upsides to purposeful clothing choices in a business setting:

1) You feel better

One of the principal upsides to professional clothing is that it can boost your mood. A positive outlook creates tangible gains in all areas of your life. In the workplace, it can give you that extra boost, like the right coffee brew from a local café or a perfectly prepared bacon and egg roll. You’ll have the focus and drive to start the day off with confidence because you won’t be worried about seeming slovenly or unprepared.

You need to determine what clothing makes you feel the best, while also wearing what’s appropriate by your business’ guidelines.

Your business partners might find it odd if you show up in a bathing suit and Uggs, but you could also be overestimating how much they notice small details about your appearance.

Do you secretly despise wearing a tie or slipping on a pair of high heels? It might actually make you more productive if you forgo these trappings of business prowess in favour of different clothing that still gets the point across: You’re a force to be reckoned with.

2) You work better

Studies show that smart dress can make you seem more dominant and capable of profitably closing negotiations. Your business associates and clients will expect you to live up to the qualities they perceive through your clothing. Use their expectations to your advantage.

This may seem like the perfect excuse to invest in an Armani suit or that Prada handbag you’ve been eyeing. But what it really tells us is that looks can sell just as well as a product or service can. Personality and appearance can sway outcomes in your favour.

3) You fake better

Ever heard the phrase, ‘Fake it ‘til you make it’? To a great extent, you really do need to have the skills and proper experience to achieve success in business. At the same time, a certain amount of faith that you can figure things out will help you accomplish what you may not have believed possible before.

When you have the confidence that smart attire produces, you’ll put yourself in the mindset of someone who can make it work. What’s the difference between someone who delivers great results and someone who looks like they can? Maybe less than you think.

In the business world, a healthy dose of vanity can give you many benefits – the upper hand in negotiations, the assurance to trust yourself and the drive to be more productive.

If you find the balance between what is required of you in professional settings and what makes you the most comfortable and content, you’ll be on your way to maximising your business’ potential.


Clive Barrett is the Executive Chairman of First Class Financial Group, Australia’s largest financial support services franchise providing bookkeeping, finance and tax services.