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Dressing to Impress and it’s importance

Do you ever think why dressing to impress is important? This can be especially true when working from home. Today, more people have been put in a position where working from home has now become the norm.

Have you ever noticed that when we dress for work, even in a casual way, we perform better?

Dress for success

Something that was brought to my attention way back in 1989. We had team meetings often at my boss’s home and when the dress code was casual, the meeting often fell into disarray or took much longer to cover what was needed. However, when we all dressed as if seeing clients, we got the meeting and the work done more quickly. I remember Teresa saying in her beautiful Canadian accent, “Great job, we work better when suited and booted”.

two-women-meeting-at-home-over-the-tableThose days, I worked in a busy international fashion buying office that dealt with everything from basic casual beachwear to Dunhill, Burberry, Hermes, Chanel, and Versace. There was an unspoken pressure to dress to suit the season, the job, and your figure. On occasion, that did of course mean wearing jeans and a T-shirt to scramble about in the warehouse. But other times when meeting important people, we certainly needed to dress to impress. Here I learned what was flattering and how to do fashion on a shoestring which in today’s climate and the increase in upcycling it is a great skill!

Starting early

Dressing appropriately has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. My grandmother was one of the only female Tailoresses in Southampton in her time (the early 1900s) and always gave me advice on how to dress. While I was a small girl, she taught me how to make the most of my body shape and clothes. I was still only 11 when she passed so I was an avid young student!

Don’t we feel great when someone compliments how good we look, especially from our other half? So, let’s delve deeper into why your dress affects your mood.

University days

At university when in the clinic, I had to wear a uniform of a white jacket, black trousers, and black shoes. For several years after graduation, I lacked confidence if I wasn’t in this uniform with my hair done a certain way. I really didn’t understand until now, just how or why the clothes I wear affect me in so many ways. Interestingly, research has shown that wearing a white coat can cause mental anxiety to increase. Medics have moved away from wearing them now due to the ‘white-coat syndrome’ that patients can experience. Maybe this is down to the patient feeling intimidated by the ‘all-knowing’ white-coated clinician?

casual-dress-working-from-homeDifficult days

Dressing well on days we feel slightly down or have a difficult job to attend to can make us feel more confident, even powerful. Dressing as if we are going out to the office rather than working from home in our PJs can lift our mood and energy. This is partly because PJs are associated with sleep and casual joggers with leisure activities. Great if you are doing exercise, cleaning the house, or having a designated duvet day but not great for working productively. Compromise is possible, a smart T-shirt with a suit (at least on the top half) or smart jeans and a blazer with a smart collared shirt/blouse or a polo shirt that is clean and crisp but no tie. Some people look and feel great in quality PJs and joggers but it is unwise if you want an edge over the competition, so dress for business.

First Impressions

You only ever get one chance at a first impression, if that happens to be on a Zoom call make sure that you give the look that you intend. Dressing to impress is still important even if not meeting ‘in the flesh’! Dressing well conveys that you are the person for that particular job. This may mean given a sense of authority, confidence, or fun. When you’re a Personal Trainer then smart clean sports gear is fine. But if you are a Personal or Virtual assistant, then you need to look clean, smart, and efficient. This will give you the edge from the start. Coming out of a call with a prospect that you have converted into a customer will make you feel successful and good about yourself.

Setting the scene in your mind – the psychology

There are many ways that appropriately dressing to impress affects our thoughts. Clothes don’t just make us feel good or bad, they are also a symbol of activity. If you are working from home when you usually work in an office, then during working hours dress to the office code. This will keep your mindset for the day to be in work mode. In her book, ‘mind what you wear’ Karen Pine says “wearing the right or wrong clothes affects your mental attitude and that clothes have an ability to change both your mood and thoughts”.

Start at the same time daily and stop at the usual time, then change into home clothes or casuals. Dressing for work helps you to differentiate between work time and home time. Having a designated area to work in will also enable your mind to recognise that you have switched roles. Equally, putting your work things away will help you to avoid remote working burnout.

Boundaries are set

Setting boundaries and abiding by them will help you to find balance and remove decision-making. If you wear a uniform in the office, wear it at home. My husband is a key worker and wears a uniform when he goes into the office and when he works from home out of uniform, it is difficult to know if he is working or not. This is not helped by differing shift patterns but if he is in uniform, we all know not to disturb him and also give him a higher level of privacy. It also helps him to perform at a level of excellence that is expected of him.

In my blog ‘Refocus Your Mind with Decluttering’, I touch on avoiding decision fatigue when choosing clothes from your wardrobe, this also applies here. Actually, we ignore 90% of our wardrobe when we are stressed at work under normal working practices. This blinkered approach spills over into our work performance.

women-chosing-smart-blouses-on-a-railSelf-esteem

It’s well known that dressing well can uplift your mood. Wearing a favourite item, colour or fabric that feels good can have a huge effect on your mood. When you feel good, your energy levels are elevated, and you are sharper and more focused on the job at hand. Dawn Karen in ‘Dress your best lifestyle’ talks about wearing items that speak to you and boost your positive thinking. Remember the 3Ps? Wearing your favourite colour, style, type of clothing or brand possibly has a significant meaning to you.

Dressing in a way that makes you feel good boosts your mood just like spending time with good company. Improving your self-esteem doesn’t only improve how you feel but it improves how you look too. You also stand better which takes the strain off your body and avoids detriment to your posture and eventually pain. You are less likely to be frowning and that will make you appear younger and happier. Who wants to work with someone who looks stressed or lazy in their posture? It is important too, to take care over the process of dressing, by enjoying this it will boost you too.

A subtle accessory here and there, for me currently it is my Tree of Life pendant or something to do with elephants, which can lift you too.

Confidence

When we are well groomed, suited and booted, ready for the job in hand, this has a positive effect on our confidence too. See First impressions above.

Using colour is a whole science in its own right. Colours evoke certain feelings and the colours you wear can have an effect not just on the person looking at you but on you too. Red is a very evocative, powerful colour and green is very calming and healing.

Dress down days

Be a devil or a rebel and give yourself a day to challenge the dress code at the office. Dress down but don’t make it a habit. When you do, be canny about it, research has shown that wearing superhero T-shirts can boost your confidence. Above all have a bit of fun, laughter is a great antidote to stress, reducing those negative neurotransmitters/hormones (cortisol, adrenaline) and lifting your spirits and your mental wellbeing.

woman-dressing-smart-workinh-from-homeThe essentials to a successful home working dress code

  • Colour: Consider the colour you wear, does it suit you, is it too outgoing for your audience?
  • Comfort: There’s nothing worse than being uncomfortable and that will show in your face so don’t sit on zoom calls in something that is so tight that you feel uncomfortable. Higher waisted lower clothing will help you to avoid joint pain and discomfort in your lower back, hips and pelvis and keep your smile genuine.
  • Function: Who is your audience and what do you need to do today? Dress for the job in hand and keep work and home attire separate.
  • Style: Do you have a particular style? It may be a retro look that makes you feel good, can you apply that to the workplace or is this one you keep separate? Steampunk might be one to keep to your leisure activity unless you are in fashion or tattooing.
  • Fun: Have some fun, and use accessories to boost your mood but not to detract from the serious job at hand.
  • Feel: The feel of the fabric you wear can make you feel confident, calm and above all, comfortable. There is nothing worse than a scratchy label or a fabric which makes you perspire.
  • Patterns: Be aware of horizontal stripes can make you look huge. Lovely navy and white stripes can look fresh, but it can put the lbs on you, especially on camera or Zoom. You also don’t want those you are working with to be totally distracted by the pattern.
  • Statement Piece: Statements are ok, they can be a logo, a corporate colour or a trend that is associated with your brand. They will all help you feel successful, confident and ready for work. If you are in a business setting, tailored is always best even if it is tailored shorts or a T-shirt and blazer.

Enjoy finding your own way of dressing to impress!

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