Campbell’s Couture: Business casual is the best look for productivity

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they notice the woman.” – Coco Chanel

I’ve always learned to dress for success. We dress up for job interviews. We dress up for networking events. We may even dress up when we give presentations in class. We’ve been taught that in order to feel our best, we should look it.

After living in Washington, D.C., for a few months, I’ve started to notice that everyone in the city dresses for success all of the time. Washingtonians trot out of their apartments in the best suits and blazers for the work day. Coffee stops are spent in oversized sweaters and long maxi skirts. These looks are even transitioned, as the long work day turns to happy hour with the co-workers.  

At my current internship, I occasionally work from home, which makes dressing up and going to the office even more of a special event. 

As an intern, my job is obviously centered around my work, but it doesn’t hurt to look cute while doing it. My go-to look varies from a nice suit and bright turtleneck top to a long maxi dress with a fitted black blazer. It gives me some motivation to get up for the day and go into the office rather than dread it. 

Don’t just take my word for it. A study conducted by Yale in 2014 put 128 men ages 18 to 32 into mock negotiation exercises. Those who were more casually dressed tended to back down more easily during negotiations. The ones who were dressed more formally were able to be respectful yet powerful during these exercises. 

“When you need to think creatively, about the bigger picture, that’s when dressing formally will increase your productivity,” said Michael L. Slepian to the Wall Street Journal, a co-author for the study and a postdoctoral research scholar and adjunct assistant professor at Columbia Business School.

Dressing for success, or the “business casual” look, can really make you feel it. Yes, it’s important to look good for your employers, but dressing for yourself is more essential. You don’t have to wear couture, but dressing up just a little more can make such a difference. 

I’ve always loved dressing up, but sometimes it can be easier to go to class in sweats and a t-shirt. The business casual look may not be your go-to look for class or getting coffee with your friends, but some additions to the everyday outfit can really make a difference. 

For instance, wearing a maxi skirt or a nice pair of pants with a sweater instead of leggings or normal jeans can make a simple look feel dressed up. Adding a blazer to a buttoned down top and jeans can be a great day to night transition look. The possibilities are endless, and so is the increased confidence and productivity from these looks. 

I’ll be sad to leave D.C. in a few weeks, but I will be bringing this motto with me back to Athens and trying to implement it into my day-to-day life. Thus, making a powerful black suit the new black. 

Hannah Campbell is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hannah by tweeting her at @hannahcmpbell.


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