Office Dress Code: Cracking the Old Style


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Dress code has always played an important role in both, doing business and job interviews. Whereas traditionally these codes have been strictly followed, nowadays more and more people cross some limits and new trends come out. In this ever changing world choosing the right style has become more and more difficult. 

Today we have the advice of Caleb Wells, Visual Consultant for T.M. Lewin. Since its beginning in Jermyn Street in 1898, T.M. Lewin has become famous for having the first coat shirt to feature buttons down the whole length of the front.  Fashions may have changed since then, but excellent craftsmanship, quality, service and value remain the unique features of the brand.

How can dress code help you to get a job?

Research has shown how crucial the first 10 – 40 seconds of your introduction are. 90% of people form their opinion about you within this time.  Besides, some experiments conducted by psychologists at Princeton University state a tenth of a second is enough for someone to form an impression of a stranger (and just based on their faces!). So this decision could be taken before you’ve even said a single word. Choosing the right outfit plays a big role to convince them and get hired. But, how can you be sure you are making the right decision?

quoteWith more and more businesses adopting a more relaxed dress code, such as Wall Street bank J.P.Morgan Chase & Co. and London professional services firm quote2 PricewaterhouseCoopers, the old adages of ‘dressing for success’ and ‘dressing  for the job you want, not the one you have’ are quickly becoming redundant.

Times are changing and in the words  of  T.M Lewin’s visual consultant: “with more and more businesses adopting a more relaxed dress code, such as Wall Street bank J.P.Morgan Chase & Co. and London professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, the old adages of ‘dressing for success’ and ‘dressing for the job you want, not the one you have’ are quickly becoming redundant”.  Here is where style consultants can help you, since they are skilled in putting together appropriate outfits for every industry, from financial institutions to technology startups.

Some rules your dress code shouldn’t break

According to Mr Wells, even the best-prepared candidates sometimes forget to check out the office dress code. Besides, confidence is your most important accessory and there are some golden rules you shouldn’t break in any case when you dress up:

  • Your shoes should be black or brown, clean and match the colour of your belt.
  • A well-tailored suit and polished pair of brogues can be the empowering suit of armour you need to give off that vibe.

We are seeing an increasing trend towards making the business casual outfit the norm in most workplaces.

Dressing in formal attire could raise one’s confidence level and boost abstract-thinking

Everyone knows that traditional dress up increases dominance and job performance, but can certain styles of clothing change other’s opinion? In a recent article published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, 128 men between 18 and 32 y.o. with different backgrounds and income levels simulated a negotiation over a factory. They were divided into 3 groups: formal dressed up, informal and casual clothes. Besides, a neutral group played the role of ‘sellers’ in each negotiation, but none of them played the role of “buyers”. Participants knew a fair value for the building, along with other information that could bias their decision-making. In the end, the ones dressed in suits were less likely to amend their initial offer, whereas those in sweatpants and the neutrals offered higher sums. Michael W. Kraus, the co-author of the study, states that these results show that wearing a suit can send others a signal “about you being successful and really confident in whatever you’re doing.”

Wearing the appropriate dress code can also impact self-perception

Another study conducted by California State University found that people in suits tend to think more broadly and holistically. In other words, wearing a suit encourages you to use abstract processing, or the ability to see the bigger picture rather than sweating the small stuff. The role of the suit in the world of business may be changing, but subconsciously its image remains as powerful as ever. So, as we have seen your clothing style affects both, self- and others perception and plays a big role in business, from job hunting to any deal you do. That’s why you should have the advice of a good style consultant or master the rules of dress code. Here you have an infographic to help you remember the most important rules!



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