Psychology Series Part IV: Dress for success

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Clothes have been around for a long time and as long as they’ve been around they’ve given insight into their owner. How we dress tells others about our personality, even before we talk to them. Did you know that people judge you based on your clothes within the first three seconds of seeing you? Good or bad, it happens either way, so what do our clothes say about us?

How Our Clothes Affect Other’s First Impressions 

The first impression is a lasting impression. What we’re wearing tends to have a large influence on how people see us. Whether it’s at school or work or just walking on the street, our clothes impact what others think of us.

Psychology Today reports that teachers often judge a student’s academic ability based on what they are wearing. If a student is “dressed for success” the teacher might perceive him to be more driven and have a higher ability.

A different study, done in 2013, had 274 participants rate a man (with a blurred out face) dressed in two suits, one tailored and one not, in two different pictures. The participants had five seconds to assess him in five categories: confidence, success, trustworthiness, salary and flexibility. After all the ratings were in, the picture of the man wearing the tailored suit had better scores in four out of five categories.

What we can learn from this study is that our clothes tell people a lot about ourselves, true or not, within the first few seconds. In this case, the man in the tailored suit made a good impression on the people without saying anything.  This meant, he wouldn’t have to work as hard to gain their approval. The other man would have to work a little harder.

How Our Clothes Affect Us

Did you know that how we dress also affects how we think of ourselves and how we behave?

Another study showed that the traits we associate with clothing influences how we act. In this study, participants were shown a lab coat and asked about it. When asked, the participants associated it with attentiveness and carefulness. Next, they told the participants that the coat was a doctor’s coat and then had the participants put it on. This resulted in the wearer having increased attention. After this, a second group was given the same coat but told it was a painter’s coat. This group saw no increase in attention or carefulness.

What we think of what we wear affects us. Going to work dressed in a suit and tie will result in a more productive day as opposed to shorts and a t-shirt. What people wear changes their perception of their responsibilities.


One of the things I like to do is always dress like I’m going to do something, even if I’m not. Everyone loves relaxing days, I do too, but even on those days I don’t like to dress in “comfy” clothes. It’s as though when you dress in pajamas for the day you’ve already surrendered to doing nothing! I like to feel like I’m ready to go out and conquer the world (haven’t yet XD)!

I feel much more productive when I dress in clothes I’d wear to be productive. I would never go to a debate or speech dressed in basketball shorts and a t-shirt! So why should I spend the day in them? Instead, I like to dress for success.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully you enjoyed Part IV of the Psychology Series. If you haven’t already read the other parts check them out here: Part I, Part II, Part III. Feel free to look around and please subscribe!

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