You’ve probably heard about Melania Trump’s recent controversial outfit choice. She wore a green trench coat with the message, “I really don’t care, do u?” while boarding the plane to visit the detention centers that are holding immigrant children in Texas. Without spoken words, Melania’s clothing sent a message to the world – whether she intended to or not. This reinforced the idea that what you wear will influence people’s impression of you.
People will judge you in the first few seconds of meeting you, solely based on the way that you look. And, even if they already have a solid impression of you, your wardrobe choices can easily change that perspective. Showing up to an important event without putting effort into your appearance will send the message that you don’t care. Overdressing for a casual meeting could send the message that you’re stuffy or less relatable.
There is no right or wrong way to dress. However, you should make intentional clothing choices.
Imagine you’re in an elevator. A woman walks in wearing a pinstripe, mid-length, navy blue pencil skirt with a matching tailored blazer and a silk cream blouse. Her hair is pulled back into a low, sleek bun and her makeup is neutral and simple. What is she communicating to the world? Based on her image, we can assume that she is professional, mature, assertive, and powerful. Your style is an outward representation of who you are, how you view yourself, and what you want from the world.
Not only does the way you dress influence the way others perceive you, but it will also impact how you feel. Northwestern conducted a study to determine how what we wear impacts the way that we feel. In the experiments, they had one group of students wear a white lab coat to perform non-medical tasks, then they had another group of students perform the same tasks without the lab coat. Surprisingly, the students who wore the lab coat made half as many errors as the students who wore regular clothes. They called it “enclothed cognition.”
Be mindful of the message you’re sending with your wardrobe, so you don’t detract from the true value you add. As always, we’re here if you need help.