Business & Finance Medical Practice

The Power of Power Dressing

Author: Dr. Rohini R

Power dressing was a concept born in the second half of the 1970s and developed in the 1980s. It is a fashion style that that helps to establish authority in a professional and political environment. The concept was initially developed and popularised for women to address a new kind of female workers entering a traditionally male dominated environment, recommending them a “uniform” or style that would enable them to acquire authority, respect and power at work. Before the 1970s, most working women were confined to working in traditionally female occupations as teachers, secretaries, bookkeepers, and typists etc. However the power of power dressing (clothing, hairstyle and overall style) applies to both men and women. The goal of power dressing was to look like an executive whether you are one or not.

Studies have shown that people who dress better have more confidence, feel more powerful, and are more focused on details. Studies have also shown that well dressed people are perceived better by others. People also generally gravitate more towards well dressed people to seek support/ advice, compared to those who are not well dressed. Though we all like to believe that we should not judge a book by it’s cover, subconsciously, everyone does. That is just human nature.

Power dressing is not always by the book, like wearing a suit etc. It is about making a statement, even if it is just a black turtle neck and blue jeans that defines you and makes you recognisable, like Steve Jobs. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who is known to just wear plain gray t-shirts, understands the power of dressing very well. During an important year for Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg committed to wearing a tie everyday for the whole year. He said his tie was the symbol of how serious he is and how important the year is.

Research shows that appearance strongly influences other people’s perception of a person’s financial success, authority, trustworthiness, intelligence and suitability for hire or promotion. Personal appearance, influences a person’s chances for career advancement. The way you dress plays a significant role in appearance.

A psychological concept called “halo effect” has strong ties to beauty. Experiments have shown that attractive people are considered as more sociable, intelligent, dominant, warm, stable, mentally healthy and socially skilled than compared to less attractive people, as though an invisible “halo” were shining down upon the beautiful.

The Benefits of Power Dressing (Backed by Research):

  • Boosts Your Self-Confidence: Self-perception and self-confidence has a significant impact on  how others perceive you. 
  • First Impression is Important: First impression matters. Being well dressed creates a great first impression, especially because we live in such a judgmental world. 
  • Self Respect:  Making an effort to dress well radiates an image of self-worth and self-respect. 
  • Attracts the Right Attention: Power dressing gets you noticed in a crowd and helps draw the right attract the right attention and help make the right contacts 
  • More Authority: Dressing better and as per your surroundings is known to have a positive impact on the person’s overall mood. By staying more positive, polite, and confident, you can certainly make your way towards success while overcoming all the barriers with greater self-confidence.
  • Enhances Your Productivity: Power dressing can help you stay motivated from within and increase productivity.
  • Exhibits Capability, Trust and Attention To Detail: Power dressing exhibits that you are you are capable, good at what you do, can be trusted professionally and shows your passion towards attention to detail. It shows that you would do your best at any task that is assigned.
  • Gaining a Competitive Edge: Power dressing gives you a competitive edge over your counterparts. It makes you impressive, stand out and establish good rapport with people around you.

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