As a personal stylist and image consultant,  I have personally witnessed the impact that dressing for success can have on a professional’s career.

I have explored the topic of Dressing for Work in depth before, by looking at how you can bring your own Personal Style in the Corporate World. For those who aren’t convinced, I’ve put together 5 Reasons to Dress for Success too.

But how can the way you dress help you in the business world?

Dressing for first impressions and perceptions

Dressing appropriately for work can be a bit of a minefield as every company and industry sector has its own idea of what is acceptable. Finding out what is expected of you in your company or sector, and dressing appropriately for the situation you are in, is vital. Your choice of outfit will play a big part in the first impression you create amongst colleagues and customers.

But it’s not only about the way other people see you.

Dressing for self-esteem and confidence

Dressing appropriately can also boost your self-esteem, confidence, and overall performance. If you look the part and feel the part you’re much more likely to be able to fulfil the role required of you. I believe, and I have seen the evidence from all my years working 1-1 with my clients, when you look good you feel good, and when you feel good you’re capable of almost anything.

Dressing for Productivity

You’ve probably all experienced getting dressed for work and immediately feeling more motivated or focussed, however research has actually shown that items of clothing which hold certain symbolic associations really can increase performance.

You may have heard about a popular 2012 study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwest University, Illinois, where a group of subjects were asked to complete a Stroop test. Some of the subjects were given identical white lab coats to wear while they completed tests and the performance levels in this group increased significantly. Half of the subjects were then told that they were wearing a doctor’s coat, an item of clothing linked with carefulness and attention, while the others were told they were wearing an artist’s coat. In further tests the performance of the ‘doctors’ again improved, while the performance of the ‘artists’ didn’t change.

The subject of clothes affecting performance has been explored even further since this study with Director and Andrew Jensen and many others writing about the subject too.

While I’m not suggesting that you all wear white lab coats to the office to increase your performance, this study does show that wearing clothes that are associated with your role really can improve the way you work.

Dressing for your own personal style

Dressing for success doesn’t mean losing your own sense of style; you can always express your personality through colour, pattern, and accessories, it simply means dressing in a way that combines your individuality with what is appropriate for the workplace.

Many of my clients come to me because they have come to realise how important their professional image is, yet they don't have the time or know-how to get the results they desire. If you too feel that now is the time to take stock of your image and update your style, please do get in touch. I would love to help.

Lizzie Edwards is the leading personal stylist and image consultant in London, working with women over thirty five on their business image and personal brand.