How Fashion Can Influence Your Career: 5 Common Examples

Believe it or not, the way you dress certainly communicates and can have a phenomenal impact on your ability to move ahead in your career and therefore your business. Looking at the big picture, what you wear does not define who you are as an individual nor determines your skill or value as a human being. However, in the realm of sheer mortals, people judge you by your looks and that includes your dressing sense. At your workplace, clothing can have a significant influence on how your colleagues or boss perceives you and their response towards you.

Scientists at the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC) recently found that your clothes and personality influences other’s perception of your intelligence, trustworthiness, suitability for promotion or hire, authority and success. Since perception is an utter reality, the way you dress not only communicates about you as a person, but also influences your degree of career advancement.

Many studies have shown that the clothes you wear affect your physical and mental performance too. A growing body of research states that something biological occurs when you are dressed in a snazzy outfit. Whenever I sit down to write my college research paper in a luxurious suit, it gives me an air of confidence, leading to favorable outcomes. That is my personal experience with dressing and physical performance.

Here are 5 great tips to ensure that your dressing sense has a positive impact on your career. These points also shed light on what your clothes say about you.

1. Pick a color that is not distracting

Irrespective of the field of job you are in, you certainly want your boss to focus on you instead of your pink paisley shirt. So replacing busy patterns with solid colors that echo your personality is a wise decision forward. However, be careful not to make it too dull or too loud. For instance, red can overpower your interviewer. An interviewer speaks of her experience while interviewing a candidate who was dressed in red. She had great energy and looked mesmerizing but unfortunately, her outfit distracted the interviewer. It also gave a clear message to the owner of the company that the woman would turn out to be aggressive. This impression was a key factor she was turned down.

Instead of red or similar colors like pink or orange, adhere to standard business colors, and include accents in brighter hues (as on a tie or scarf). Black can be a great choice since it’s a commanding color that exhibits authority. The other viable options include dark blue, showing trustworthiness, security and a composed state of mind and gray, which conveys confidence.

2. Get a bespoke suit

The importance of wearing a customized suit cannot be stressed enough. A bespoke suit normally delivers an improved impression compared to a readymade suit. The size of your suit does not say anything about your skills, qualification or other expertise, but certainly gives an impression that you lack an eye for detail. Your boss might end up thinking that you just got out of bed and grabbed the first thing found in your closet.

Whenever you pick a suit, note that the shoulder pads end at your shoulders, the sleeves end at the meeting point of your thumbs and wrists, and the jacket fits close enough to your body.

3. Wear smart casuals

If the company you work at entails that you stick to its smart casuals, you can have many options to choose from. A blazer or jacket over a collared dress shirt or polo can work great in some situations, helping you to improve your looks and therefore the way others perceive you. Pair such an outfit with trousers made of wool, linen, cotton, moleskin, twill, or corduroy, and you will get a meticulous look.

For women, it can be a pair of trousers or a decent skirt. However, stay away from flashy fabrics like chiffon, lace, or satin. Another important thing worth noting is to avoid glittery costume jewelry even if your company endorses a relaxed dress code.

4. Play safe with facial hair and piercings

Although approximately 40% of people aged between 18 and 29 have a tattoo, a study found that most employers have unfavorable opinions on inked personalities. However, this depends largely on the company’s policy, the industry you are in and the employer’s age.
If you are unsure of all these factors, it is better to play safe than repent later.

Cover up your tattoos and remove facial piercings, and if you have facial hair, remember to trim and clean it every morning before you head to work.

5. Focus on the details

A refined appearance imminently draws people towards you. For instance, many employers while hiring observe the shoes of the candidate. A great shine may not matter to you, but it is an indicator of dedication towards presentation and success. Also, ensure not to put on wrinkled clothing as this might imply that you are a lazy person incapable of performing your basic duties. Wear clothes that fit you properly as it gives you a polished look, and people at your workplace will perceive you in a different way.

Psychology of clothing and how fashion can affect your career are to be considered if you want to stand out from the rest. These factors are in your absolute control, so it is sensible to take a close look at them and get ahead in your career.

Robert Everett: I am a freelance writer currently based in Chicago. Solving students’ career and university problems. Having an interest in marketing and business. You can connect with Mr. Everett on Facebook and Google+.


  1. Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    I always found that if I dressed well and coordinated my outfit and accessories I felt better at work. I enjoyed ready all these facts on how fashion can affect one’s career.