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Why Is It Important to Dress More Professionally? Print E-mail
Like it or not, our clothing send out messages. They say a lot more about us than whether we look tidy, well put together and stylish. 

A study* has shown that our choice of clothes influences the kind of impressions we give to people. The study was carried out with over 300 men and women. They were flashed images of a man and woman for just 3 seconds and were asked to give their opinion. The images only showed clothes of minor differences, such as, a tailored suit versus an off-the-rack one. In this case, the same man wore both of these suits in different images. Besides, the models' faces are not visible.

As a result, not only did they favour the one in the tailored suit, they also made 'value judgements' about him. They found him to be more confident, successful, flexible and a higher earner as compared to the one in the regular off-the-rack suit.

Since clothing matter, it is important to pay more attention to what we choose to wear to make sure we are sending right messages of ourselves. Here are three basic guidelines to help you dress better for work: 

1. Do you look professional and credible?
Make sure the style of your clothes is appropriate for the environment. For example, dressing in a bank is more formal and conservative. You might be required to wear suits in neutral colours such as blue, grey, brown, etc. On the other hand, if you work in a design agency, your clothing can be more colourful and less formal-looking. Having said that, you would still want to look like you mean business. So, do not get too carried away with clothes that show too much skin in colours that are too loud. You still want to give a good impression.

2. Do you look sharp and smart?
Stay away from clothes that are too tight or too baggy. Clothes that are too big for you signals that you are sloppy. Tailored clothes are the best. Otherwise, check the fit of your clothes and have them altered to fit you, if needed. 

3. Do you look fresh and clean?
Groom yourself well. For example, gentlemen should shave or trim their facial hair and ladies need to apply appropriate make up. You will look more polished. Ill-grooming reflects on your attitude and may signal that you 'cannot be bothered'.

When in doubt, seek help from an image consultant who can offer expert advice you on how you can improve on your professional image or even help you with an image makeover. Alternatively, you could sign up for a professional image workshop to pick up dressing and grooming skills.

* (2013) "The influence of clothing on first impressions: Rapid and positive responses to minor changes in male attire", Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, Vol. 17 Iss: 1, pp.38 - 48

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