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A good first impression can take you a long way in business and professional meetings. And you don’t have long to make one, either — a recent study found that the average human formulates their first impression of someone in 33 to 100 milliseconds.
While being sloppily dressed or less presentable could lead others to perceive you as lazy, unreliable or unprofessional, dressing like a professional can help you make major strides toward landing partnerships that matter, getting new jobs or unlocking new opportunities.
One of the first ways to flip the script on this perception is by dressing professionally. Here are just a few reasons why dressing professionally still matters.
1. Creates a great first impression.
While we’ve all been told not to “judge a book by its cover” countless times, it’s human nature to do exactly that. Humans are innately judgmental and quick to piece together an assumption solely based on what we see. So, looking sharp and professional signals that you are, in fact, sharp and professional.
While there are different ways this can be reflected in appearance — particularly from industry to industry — dressing to look the best in your professional field can go a long way toward opening new doors for you.
2. Draws positive attention
A sharp dresser is prone to draw the right kind of attention and stand out from the crowd. To a fiction writer such as myself, this can be referred to as the “halo effect,” meaning people are much more likely to think positively about a good-looking (or professionally dressed) individual. Additionally, investing time and effort into this type of dressing signifies self-respect and a high sense of self-worth, which can be contagious to those around you.
3. Promotes self-confidence.
One of the strongest ways to improve others’ perception of you is to improve the perception you have of yourself. When we feel as though we look good on the outside, there is a positive correlation to us also feeling good on the inside. This boosts self-confidence and perception, which ultimately leads to others believing the same — all stemming from dressing professionally.
4. Keeps you productive
It’s often said that dressing professionally can lead to being more productive. When we dress in comfortable clothes, our likelihood of wanting to have a comfortable, laid-back day is higher. When you have an important day awaiting and you choose to wear professional business attire, you are much more mentally prepared to separate work and leisure time. In my experience, this can lead to higher productivity levels and a more successful workday.
5. It’s fun!
Perhaps the best of all the points on this list is that dressing professionally can be fun! While many think of “business-professional” as synonymous with “drab,” that doesn’t have to be the case. Our clothing choices, even professionally, are a way for us to display personal style and clothing preferences — it’s an expression in its finest form.
Experimenting with different colors and styles to see which combination fuels you the most is a great way to see how you like to dress for success. Choose what is best for you, and don’t be afraid to switch styles up for some extra excitement. Be yourself while being professional.
Bonus tip: Accessorize for extra flair.
While professional dress differs for everyone, one thing remains the same: Accessories score bonus points when it comes to how others perceive you.
One of my favorite personal recommendations is a luxury watch if it makes sense with your budget. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a watch enthusiast myself. In a professional business environment, many people will be dressed in a suit. A high-end luxury watch can help you stand out. It signals not only professionalism but also good taste and status. Fortunately, there are companies like Lux Watch Supply that strive to make luxury timepieces more accessible.
In short, if you want to unlock the full benefits of dressing professionally, don’t forget to accessorize.
Even in the age of Zoom meetings and webcams, professional dress is still a crucial aspect of the digital and physical workplace and continues to matter as much as it ever has, if not more. If you are transitioning out of a more casual work environment, dressing professionally might be an intimidating concept, but hopefully, these tips will help get you on your way to feeling at home in professional attire.