THE CASE FOR CLASS<br />I’ve noticed a significant anti-resolution backlash this year among friends of both the “IRL” and ...
What to Wear: Dress for Success
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What to Wear: Dress for Success


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Does the way you dress impact your employability or your ability to lead others?

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What to Wear: Dress for Success

  1. 1. THE CASE FOR CLASS<br />I’ve noticed a significant anti-resolution backlash this year among friends of both the “IRL” and internet variety. Sometimes this disdain for resolutions takes a self-deceptive and euphemistic tone, “I don’t make resolutions, I make personal goals for the year.” Other times it is vague and New Agey, “This year, I resolve to just be” and of course there are the hardcore abstainers. But for the démodé among you, I’d invite you to join me in that most anachronistic of pursuits – resolving to be different and better in the coming year. Specifically, I’d invite you to join me in dressing more professionally. <br />I recently completed a series of interviews and pre-employment assessments for a client of mine. In the course of the vetting process, I had face-to-face interviews with seven people, representing a 40 year age range and both men and women. Of the seven I interviewed, only one candidate wore a suit; a reality I found both surprising and disappointing. While five of the candidates’ dress could most appropriately be called “business casual”, one brazen job-seeker was just plain old “casual.” <br />I understand that professional standards of dress have relaxed over the years, and I’m not even saying that’s a bad thing. What I am saying is that the way you dress has an impact and that you should be thoughtful about that impact. Consider the following:<br />THE SPEED OF LIGHT<br />Fact: Light travels faster than sound – you are seen before you are ever heard. Your message is then communicated through the filter of peoples’ perceptions of your dress and appearance. Many a flip-flop sporting new hire has appealed to be valued for ideas rather than appearance. What cannot be forgotten is that the two do not exist independently of one another.<br />ACT YOUR PART<br />My four-year-old nephew was Iron Man for Halloween. In street clothes, Noah is your average boy; fun loving, playful, sometimes poignantly generous and kind to his playmates. However, when he suits up as the second coming of Tony Stark – look out. He races up and down the hall, “blasting” others with his hands, throwing himself atop anyone within range, and engaging in all manner of cringe-inducingly dangerous behavior. <br />Turns out, we really never grow out of the “Iron Man Phenomenon”. A poll of over 1,000 HR executives regarding their dress down days revealed a 30 percent increase in flirtatious behavior leading to an increase in sexual harassment lawsuits. When you dress like a professional, you’re more likely to act like one. When you come to work like you’re going to a pub crawl, is it any wonder that you hit on your coworkers?<br />WEAR YOUR BRAND<br />Coca-Cola, estimated to be the world’s most valuable brand, spent $2.44 billion dollars in 2009 on marketing and branding. If branding matters that much to Coke, how much ought it matter to you professionally? You are your brand – the words you say, the clothes you wear, the work you produce, all determine your employability and worth in the workplace. <br />Your Momma will love you no matter what, but your boss still cares what you wear. Take a page from Coke’s book – be consistent and be classic. Dressing like a gentle(wo)man does not mean buying expensive brands or being pretentious, it simply means wearing clothes that reflect the kind of career you’d like to have. If you’d like a corner office, there is no time like the present to start dressing accordingly. <br />THE YEAR OF THE GENTLEMAN<br />I have semi-jokingly and hyperbolically begun referring to 2011 as “The Year of the Gentleman”. If any of you other gentlepeople would like to join me in rocking cufflinks, oxfords and bowties this year, I’d love the company. Oh yeah, and before I forget, lose the “Mark Zuckerberg wears jeans and hoodies to work” mentality – he has $6.9 billion and you don’t. <br />Dr. Daniel Crosby is President of Crosby Performance Consulting (, a corporate psychology and leadership development consultancy. He owns three bow ties, one pocket watch, and zero pairs of suspenders. He’d love you forever if you’d follow him @crosbypsych or “Like” Crosby Performance Consulting on Facebook. <br />