What you wear says a lot about who you are, particularly in the working world. Of course, one should never judge a book by its cover, but that’s an ideal that is hard to come by in today’s corporate environment. Realistically speaking, you can’t just wander into meeting rooms dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and expect a promotion to senior management.
Many independent studies (such as this one) verify that the way you dress correlates to your financial success. To some degree this is common sense: you rarely see a director or CEO who does not dress well (at least, while they are in the public eye).
That said, context is also important. For example, leaders in the creative industry, like the CEO of an advertising agency, can dress casually but still find financial success.
Likewise, major metropolitan areas like Singapore, London, and New York tend to see a higher correlation between income and dress code. Less so in rural areas probably because no one, not even top businessmen, feel like wearing a suit when they are in Cebu or the Australian outback.
Here are 5 essential tips to help you dress for success and get that pay raise or promotion you deserve:
1. Dress for your role
In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, two groups of students were tested: one group wore white coats, while the other were in casual clothes. (Note: the students wearing white coats were not necessarily science or medical students.)
The students were then prescribed a series of tests, which required concentration and thought. The students who wore the coats consistently performed better.
The term used to describe it was “enclothed cognition” – the way you dress and the clothes you look at influence your psychological processes. It’s not a new concept; many organisations have known this throughout history. It’s why schools and militaries require uniforms, for example.
This means you might perform better if you start dressing for your role. Even if the boss allows you to come in wearing t-shirt and jeans, you might find your mind works at a higher level if you come in dressed as a high-powered executive.
Certainly, those looking at you will also respond appropriately. That, in turn, could have an impact on your pay cheque.