What you wear matters - Unless it doesn't | Business, Life and Leadership

Posted on 04-18-2014 by
Tags: woman lawyers , Upgrading Your Skills , people , career management

In her blog, Business, Life and Leadership, Liz Mason asks the question, "what does your outfit say about your status?"  

After evaluating a Wall Street Journal article reported on research from Harvard Business School regarding the importance of what you wear in communicating your status, the research showed that in some situations, ignoring the norms actually conveyed higher status. The concept is that ignoring dress norms can signify a sense of high confidence and comfort – i.e., you don’t need the clothes to prove it. 

Liz goes onto say that she experienced this first-hand in a corporate setting.

"Big acquisition case, big presentation to the boss’s boss’s boss. We had been working on this deal around the clock for weeks. It was the height of summer, and we were going in for the big ask. I came to the meeting wearing what I usually wore in summer – a sleeveless dress, a cardigan in case the a/c was too high, and heels. Honestly, it didn’t occur to me to wear anything different, until my colleagues showed up dressed to the nines.  I took some flak about my outfit, (spoken:  “it takes a lot of confidence to dress like you don’t care”; implied:  you are making us all look bad). The meeting went well. Did it matter what I was  wearing? Well, as the article points out, there’s a fine line between confidence and cluelessness. I doubt the meeting would have gone well if I had worn sweatpants, or had hairy legs to go with my summer dress. And really, who knows if the outfit made a difference? It was in the realm of acceptable, if perhaps more casual than other attendees. I’d like to believe that what mattered was that I had prepared extensively, thought though a number of scenarios, and in the end, knew what I was talking about."   

What are your thoughts? Would you think less of someone if he/she dressed in a casual manner? 

Read the complete blog post >>


Posted on : 16 Jun 2015 5:48 AM

Dressing up properly to anywhere does matter. It shows seriousness and when you dress formally, people know you mean business. It is important to dress nicely, but more important to dress professionally (in a professional environment) especially when you have to attend any business related meetings.

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