What Does Your Attire Say About You?

Have you ever ever seen someone who’s attire is so visually aesthetic that you can’t help but turn your head? Another question, have you ever seen someone who was dressed so horrendously that you wonder to yourself how they even had the confidence to be seen in public?  The main driving factor behind these conscious or subconscious thoughts about others mainly derives from the fact that ones attire sends nonverbal cues to one another. In essences, this post is meant to enlighten those on the matter of the communicative nature of your attire.

Many people will tell you the importance of dressing for success and countless surveys will illustrate the importance of dressing up for a company.  A survey demonstrates that some who is dressed professionally is found to be 41 % more likely to be promoted; this figure rises to a whopping 55% in certain industries.  Also, a survey conducted by Peter W. Cardon and  Ephriam  A. Okoro found the following:

Altogether, there were 16 characteristics grouped into six scales: (1) authoritative scale: authoritative, influential, powerful; (2) competent scale: self-confident, competent, professional; (3) productive scale: hardworking, productive; (4) trustworthy scale: trustworthy, dependable; (5) friendly scale: agreeable, friendly, cheerful, approachable; and (6) creative scale: creative, inspired. Respondents ranked each of the 16 adjectives on a scale from 1 (casual attire) to 5 (formal attire) to indicate how attire projected these various characteristics.

The finding in these surveys states that 64-73% of students preferred to work at a company where the dress code is business casual.  On top of this, many young professionals  are perceived as wanting to dress down more casually as opposed to corporate dress code. However, although many young professionals prefer business casual attire and some prefer corporate dress code, it is seen that the majority of young professionals prefer business casual in a workplace rather than a pure casual workplace.

Over time, business programs have geared their academia to cover critical thinking and problem solving skills as part of their educational process but as of recent, the program have been implementing  “softer” competencies such as  communication and interpersonal skills.  It is undeniable that attire has communicative power as well as cultural and social significance.

: attributes of dress, homogeneity, and conspicuousness. Attributes of dress include color, material and style, and each can represent different symbolic meanings. Specific colors are known to communicate subliminal messages, and specific colors of clothing are chosen to convey a certain attitude or to create a particular mindset in the audience. Similarly, the style of dress can convey status and power — everyone, for instance, has heard the phrase “power suit.”

A 1977 article by Rollman demonstrates that a professor who was dressed in a more casual manner was rated as having less status than when that same professor wore something more professional as in a suit and tie.



















The Triumph and Downfall of Business Casual

When I think of business casual, the first thing that comes to mind is a v-neck sweater, corduroy pants and a pair of relaxed dress shoes. For many years it was seen as a necessity to dress in a manner that conveyed a company as strictly professional but, as time progressed, many fashion experts have argued that the boom of “eBusiness” is where the origins of the notorious business casual emerged. Now, personally, I am a fan of business casual 100% but, my tastes are much more modern and I prefer a slimmer fit cut then that of an ill fitting one that looks horrible in my opinion.

Business CasualBusiness Formal

My people argue what was the exact thing that cultivated business casual, although, many do agree that it was around the start of eBusiness. Some people

“credit Levi Strauss’s invention of the Dockers brand in 1986 with the rise in acceptable business casual attire for men, while Gutierrez and Freese (1999) argue that dressing down for businesses can be attributed “to the high-tech companies in the Silicon Valley of California that . . . hired primarily people from blue-collar backgrounds . . . [who] were more comfortable in the casual clothing they had worn all their lives” (p. 33).

Whatever the case may be, business casual attire did demonstrate and incredible surge in acceptance. Some say all but most conservative business in the U.S were relaxing their dress codes to at least once a week. While some companies limited this relaxed dress code to Fridays, some firms have even gone to say that they allowed employees to wear a t shirt and jeans as along as it seemed neat. Business casual originally had a specific look it was going for but as time progressed, the term business casual can mean many different things to different people as seen in the following.

The two unwritten rules  that most employees who interacted with clients were expected to follow were (1) keep it neat and (2) dress to match the client’s attire. Sabath (2008) suggests that “the real definition of business-casual dress is wearing clothes that will allow professionals to represent their organizations if they are called to a last-minute client meeting, without feeling obliged to apologize for their appearance,”

Although it was demonstrated that business casual attire did create a laxness in the workplace and those companies that allowed casual attire in the workplace did enjoy around a 40% increase in productivity; it is to be noted that all good things must come to an end. Around the year 2002 many business began to return to the use of formal attire in the workplace.Many employees have stated that after being promoted, they began to believe that they were no longer being taken seriously due to their business casual attire which then coerced them to switch back over to formal attire. Business then began to once again require that employees wear formal attire in the workplace area. Employers spew blame at the employees who took business casual out of proportion. Whatever the case may be  business casual attire has fallen from its once high position, however I do believe that there is a slight possibility that business casual attire may rise to prominence again; it all depends on how the future business decide to run.





Can Business Attire be the Key to Success? Kinda.

             I may be the only who loses his mind when I see a perfectly tailored Hugo Boss suit in the sleeves, hem of the trousers and waist of the suit jacket but, subliminally, many people are immediately judging you depending on what you wear whether it’s a $9,695 Kiton dark blue suit or a tee-shirt and cargo shorts.  It is seen that what you wear can have as much as an impact as how you behave but, more on that later. This post is meant to enlighten the many individuals out there who want to rise up the ladder of success and how they can do so by simply improving the way they dress. Now, of course, simply throwing on a tailored Giorgio Armani suit paired with House of Testoni oxfords isn’t enough for you to rise to the position of CEO however, the aforementioned articles of clothing can possibly help you climb that ladder if you already obtain phenomenal work ethic, fortified ambition and the will to be one step ahead of the competition.

           I’ve never been the type of person who gets a plethora of attention; for the most part, I’ve been a shy and reserved person by nature and have always been self-conscious about the way that I carry myself. For most of my life, my personal style has been the last thing on mind but as of recently (junior year of high school) I decided to buy my first pair of lace up dress shoes in which I would argue has been one of the most life changing events in my life besides fitness. The amount of compliments and varies instances of attention that I would receive would be quite unusual but reassuring at the same time; I do believe the amount of attention went slightly to my head but I try to be humble about it. At that moment is when I decided to completely revolutionize my wardrobe and curate an interchangeable one with staple and timeless menswear items ranging from v neck sweaters, button down oxfords, slim fit chinos and Chelsea boots. Ever since, what most people would call “dressing fancy” has become second nature and my everyday wear after constantly having the “dress the impress” mentality. It’s not uncommon that I go to different retail stores shopping and have customers coming up to me thinking I’m the manager, I find it quite comical but simultaneously flattering. When you dress the part, many people would instantly associate you with power even if that’s not the case but remember, the main objective is to dress the part and actually have it too.


          If anecdotes aren’t enough to prove that dressing the part is an instrumental factor in a business (or any setting) setting, then some studies may pique your interest.  In an excerpt Professional Characteristics Communicated by Formal Versus Casual Workplace Attire from the Business Communication Quarterly, it is stated that,

“a recent survey found that 41 percent of employers  stated that employees who dressed professionally  were more likely to be promoted. This figure rises to 55 percent in certain industries such as financial services” (Haefner, 2008).

From a business or corporate perspective, it is seen that those employees who are well dressed are believed to curate more favorable impressions with peers and clients. Not only that but it can be argued that “business attire is not a mere preliminary to serious communication but is itself a form of communication” (DeKay 2009).  What you wear can project different messages and certain levels of attire can emit certain types of qualities. A survey conducted  by Peter W. Cardon and  Ephraim A. Okoro demonstrates that,

“Formal business attire projects authoritativeness and competence, somewhat formal business attire is associated with productivity and trustworthiness, and less formal business attire is associated with creativity and friendliness. These characteristics are interpreted in similar manner across ethnicity and gender” (Cardon and Okoro, 2009).

navy-2Of course, dressing a certain way can project certain traits but all is useless if you don’t utilize being well dressed. Being well dressed is the icing on the cake, having the skills and work ethic of a CEO is what is most needed and is what will ultimately seal the day. It may not seem like much but being meticulous with you style such as accessorizing and pinpointing your clothing fit does not go unnoticed. Many would be surprised how something as minimal as pinstripe navy blazer vs an ordinary solid navy blazer, a pocket square or even a properly tucked in tailored dress shirt (not having a muffin top) can elevate you in the eyes of many. It is those who take the time to nail down their style after having their work ethic in play that have the edge over the competition. Now my fellow readers, go out there and finesse with style.