Editorial: Dressing For Success

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November 12, 2014 12:03 AM

Different professions favour distinct sartorial styles, but keeping it casual has its advantages

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg was recently asked why he wore grey T-shirts almost every day. His answer was that he had no time to waste in deciding what to wear every morning. The late Steve Jobs too was always seen in a black turtleneck top. People are judged by the way they dress and look. In the corporate world, the formally dressed are perceived as more successful and bright. A study published in Evolution and Human Behavior found that when wearing ‘high-status clothing’, people scored higher in job recommendations and salary.

Similarly, participants in a study rated a man interviewing for a job as better-suited for the job when he wore something with a designer logo than when he didn’t. The researchers explain that designer labels communicate underlying quality—the subconscious thought is that only the best can afford them; so this person must be among the best. What is it about clothing that has such a profound impact on perceptions? Those in the media—barring television anchors—opt for smart casual. New age corporate executives will often shed ties when not meeting clients while bankers always favour three-piece suits. This is not to say that formal is always better. Dressing casually can cut stress and increase collaborative activity. Zuckerberg may have got it right.

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