What Does It Really Mean To Dress For Success?

Have you ever heard someone say, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”?  This saying is used to encourage others to prepare themselves now for the goals that they want to achieve. For example, although you are currently working as a ticket taker at a movie theater, you should dress (and have the work ethic) as if you were the theater's manager.  Many studies have shown that your attire can affect the way others approach you and your mental or physical performance. Unfortunately, your attire can deter others from getting to know how truly amazing you are.  You can try to convince someone that you are professional or qualified, but if your appearance doesn’t match what you’re saying it may not be accepted as sincere. Putting effort into your clothing selection is a great way to combat that (walk it like you talk it).

For example, the first time you saw a brown banana, did you say:
A: Yummm that looks delicious and full of vitamins or B: That banana looks old and gross

Probably B., right? This behavior has created the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” No matter the opportunity, it is important to be prepared and put your best foot forward.

There are different types of work attire and it is important to identify which one is appropriate for the professional setting that you are walking into. Most businesses provide their employees with dress code policies to guide them on the attire that is allowed (or not allowed) on professional and casual dress days. This can be business formal, business professional, business casual, or casual. So what does dressing for success look like? You can’t go wrong with a suit, polo or dress shirt, khakis, slacks, a tie, a skirt or dress that meets the knee.  There is nothing wrong with following trends as long as they are appropriate. When in doubt ask yourself if your outfit would be appropriate to wear at school.  Try to avoid shorts, sneakers, flip-flops/slides, sweatpants, leggings, hats, graphic tees, denim, revealing or baggy clothes. Business attire can be confusing. Whether you want to impress your classmates or you’re going to interview for a job, it’s hard to know what is acceptable. If you are unsure, ask a trusted adult or professional what outfit they would recommend for that occasion. Below are a few basic tips to follow.

Basic Tips:

  • Keep it simple by limiting the number of accessories, cologne, and perfume you wear. While the goal is to make a lasting first impression, a little can go a long way.

  • Don’t forget the basics. Be sure to wear clean and wrinkle-free clothes that fit properly. Walking into a new space fresh, clean and properly groomed can set the tone for your day.

  • Confidence is key!  Your attitude and mindset are huge factors in your attire. Pump yourself up with a motivational song, pep talk or an inspirational quote. Having a winning attitude is half the battle.


What does this look like?

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Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.
— Coco Chanel (French fashion designer and businesswoman)