Despite what people will say, how you dress directly affects how you feel about yourself. It is an incredibly rare occasion to find someone who will act the same when wearing a suit and tie or a tank top and shorts. People like this do exist, but they are incredibly rare. Most of the time, people who say they don’t care what they look like are using this belief to cover up a much deeper insecurity about their appearance.
There are numerous studies that show how a person dresses directly affects how they feel about themselves. The article at Penn State University explores this with an older demographic to prove this. If even older people, who have paid their dues and shouldn’t really care about how they look theoretically, simply feel better if they look better.
It’s important to remember that you are a representation of your own personal brand. They way you represent yourself is a direct reflection of your brand. A good way to explore this idea is the example of having two products, for the sake of this example the products will be two shirts. Both shirts are from the exact same company, and they are made of the exact same materials. One shirt though is a solid brown with large print on it of an expletive in a slightly darker brown. The second shirt is a nice blue shirt that matches your style better and has no chance to truly offend someone. This is the case of your personal brand. You want to present the better-looking shirt to show that you are better than the other shirt.
In the case of personal brand, you need to present the best self you can. If you are applying to a job, there is pretty much a guarantee that you will be going against some equally qualified competition. Now, the difference between you and the competition could be that all the competition is the run of the mill businessman, but you are a businessman that expresses personal style. Instead of wearing the typical white button up shirt with typical black suit, you go all out and have a coordinated suit. You are wearing a plaid navy suit with a white shirt and red tie. The minor difference of wearing a plaid suit will set you apart.
To build on the idea of a personal brand, you need always be aware that you are making a first impression with the majority of people you see in the world. If that’s the case, you need to present the best self you possibly can. You never know what the other person’s life is like. You could present yourself pretty poorly in your everyday life, but when you have an interview for a new job, you find out that the guy you see on the way to the gym everyday when you are walking wearing torn up old shorts and a cut up shirt. Though this attire may be appropriate for the gym, it would look much better for you to be wearing a workout style tank top and nice Nike shorts. That hiring manager may not want to hire you because you don’t present the brand that they want outside of work.
You Are How You Dress
This may seem shallow, but unfortunately, that is just how the world works. People are often shallow. You always need to present the best self you have to the world, but also you will feel better about yourself too. As shown in the studies, the personal brand you represent directly influences your self-esteem. This also means that how you feel directly affects the image you have of yourself.
Since you can manipulate how you identify yourself by altering how you think, you can also manipulate how you identify yourself by altering how you dress. This is where the old adage comes from “dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” This typically is meant to be for those in a desk job that want to move up. If you have to wear a uniform, then this can be exploited by wearing a nice watch. A higher up in a company would be able to afford, and would wear, a nice watch. This means you could do this too.
This idea can also be played for those that work from home. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, then dress how one would dress. Don’t think you will be able to do the best work by sitting in your underwear and getting nothing accomplished. There are numerous benefits to getting properly dressed for a day of work, even if that work is just at home. One such example is the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a task. If your task is even as simple as taking a shower, you will feel accomplished for getting this done and just feeling good.
How To Improve Your Wardrobe (even on a budget)
There are two major ways to really increase your style and promote your personal brand. The first is by spending a lot of money and getting high quality clothes. The second is to get the cheaper version that may be lacking in quality a bit, but it is considerably cheaper. The downside to the second version is that the lower quality will mean the clothes may need more maintenance or replacement over time.
To dig into the first way to enhance your wardrobe may surprise a lot of people. I always thought that the top of the line brands for clothing could be purchased at the mall. That is not the case though. The best clothing is going to cost a lot more and will come from usually lesser known companies that specialize in the clothing. An example I can draw on easily is that Levi Jeans are great, but they are on the lower end of the denim spectrum. A better brand would be Flint & Tinder which makes everything in the United States and the cheapest jeans they offer is nearly double the price of Levi Jeans. This is just an example of how there are numerous brands for any clothing and multiple price points. It’s smart to slowly increase the level of clothing you get over time as income permits.
The second idea is to buy at lower price points. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to shop at Walmart for you clothing needs, but you can shop at thrift stores. The trick is to go to higher end locations to shop at thrift stores because that will mean higher income people will be donating their higher quality clothing to these thrift stores. You will be able to get a $100 pair of jeans for under $20. This technique is absolutely crucial for college students. As a college student your spending is already limited due to the high costs associated with it, so by shopping at thrift stores, you can easily upgrade your wardrobe on a very strict budget.
At the same time of increasing the quality of your clothing, you really need to focus on the fit of the clothes. Many people get clothing that is either too big, because it’s comfortable, or too small, because it supposedly makes you feel nice. The larger clothing is more common among men, but women do it to. If you ever need to try and figure out how clothing is supposed to fit, there are numerous YouTube channels, blogs and magazines dedicated to the topic. Another way to note correct fit is to watch what’s going on in Hollywood. All the stars have a personal stylist, so take note of how famous people dress when they go out. To make it even easier, when you watch a movie or TV show, simply take note of how people dress in those. People like to watch things with attractive people, so they are all going to be dressed well.
In this wrap up, I would really like to note that personal style varies from person to person. Dressing nice doesn’t always have to be a suit and tie. If you’re a personal trainer, a suit and tie would look silly. But at the same time, as a personal trainer, you don’t want to be wearing torn up clothing. A high-quality Nike shirt with athletic shorts and shoes will look professional for the job and show that you care about how you look.
Remember how important it is to dress well. You are presenting your personal brand and always want to present you best self. At the same time, you will feel much better when you dress better. The saying “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” shows that there is more to it than just looking good for others. You will feel better if you dress better.
Lastly, there are two avenues to enhance your wardrobe. You can spend a lot of money to totally revamp the style with high quality clothing or take your time and build up a more professional wardrobe over time.
Whatever works for you, do what makes you feel the best. Dressing well is all about setting a strong precedent when you first meet someone, and it has psychological benefits as well. If you feel most presentable and confident in workout clothes, then wear it. If you feel the best in a full suit, wear it. Or, if you feel the best in just casual clothes, then go for it. Just present yourself in the best light you possibly can.