The Smart Creative’s Guide To Dressing for Work

With designer labels and high heels, we’ve come a long way since clothing was about nothing more than modesty and warmth. And yet, for many of us, what we wear for work has become automatic and habitual. We drag on a suit each day, out of routine, nothing more. Or we slouch about in baggy casual gear because we’re freelance, or working remotely, so we can.

Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco

By dressing mindlessly like this we’re ignoring the large amount of evidence showing the profound effect of clothing on our thinking style, on how we feel, and on the way others perceive us. Starting today, you can use clothing and props to improve your work performance through these simple steps:

  • Dress for the task: the “Lab Coat” effect
  • Be yourself and respect your own style
  • Choose your weapons (and accessories) wisely
  • Dress to impress
  • Consider your audience

The next time you’re getting dressed for work in the morning, be mindful of the psychological impact that clothes can have. Your choice could literally affect your mindset, so try to match your outfit to the type of work you’re planning to do. If interacting with other people is on the cards – consider who they are, the impression you want to make, and especially whether you want to impress them or be one of them. A polished professional look can certainly give you authority. But if you’re collaborating with quirky creatives, or you want to cultivate a friendly atmosphere, you may find it’s advantageous to adopt a more casual, individual style for the day.

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