During a recent Sunday night conversation with a client, he, in a moment of out loud thinking, asked what he would wear to work the following day. My immediate response to him was that I thought only women had those conversations, which I actually know not to be true. Research shows that the average woman spends 17 minutes per day deciding what to wear to work, the average man spends 14 minutes in that process. My client went on to state that he consistently and deliberately chooses his less good clothes for work – a sentiment that several other clients have echoed in the past.
Clothes have always been used to make a statement, whether as a form of oppression with prison uniforms, to articulate brand values in the form of company uniforms, or to display rank and authority as in the case with military uniforms. Our clothes say a lot about who we are and can signal a great deal of socially important things to others. Research suggests that clothing impressions about us can start in childhood. One study found that teachers made assumptions about children’s academic ability based on their clothing.
For many people, what they wear to work is merely a matter of habit. Most working people spend about 50% of their waking hours at work. Many either choose not to wear their best clothes to work or haven’t invested so that their work clothes aren’t consistently showing them at their best. Spending 50% of your waking hours at work warrants a strategic investment in how you show up during that time. Given that people’s reaction and behaviour, assumptions and judgments are made based on the clothes we wear, it might pay us to be a little more careful in the choices we make.
Trust is based on authenticity and consistency as well as congruency – some call it alignment. Most people massively underestimate the cost of not ensuring their personal brand (their visual expression) is aligned with their personality. The more we can communicate who we are so that people get a ‘true’ sense of us, the better for everyone. It will lead to building trust and engagement. It requires a lot less energy to operate from an authentic place as it’s automatic and natural.
Whether you’re working from home, and showing up online or are in a work place daily, it pays to dress with intent. Research indicates that more formal dress can assist with confidence, big picture thinking, and attention. We act in a manner consistent with our dress. When we put on a stained t-shirt and an ill-fitting pair of jeans, our brain thinks it needn’t try so hard either.
Steps to take to create a work-fit wardrobe
1. Have a style consultation. Typically, we expect someone who has had a style consultation with House of Colour to increase their earning potential by up to 25% within the 2 years following their session
2. Systematically go through every item in your work wardrobe and assess the item by asking these questions
· Does it fit?
· Is it in good condition?
· What is it saying about me?
· Does it reflect who I am?
· Does it make me feel confident?
· Is it appropriate for my work environment?
3. Where the answer is no, invest in a new item (best to do that after your style consultation). Quality speaks loudly. That extra investment will send the message that you’re worth it.
4. Remember the details. Great details (accessories) will elevate your look; Every. Single. Time.
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