Dress Code Not Optional

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You know the old adage “dress for the job that you want”? I think we need to take that one step further and dress for the life that we want.

Here is an example: This morning I had a phone conference with a Kitsune client. As it was early this morning and over the phone, no one was going to be able to see if I was still wearing shirt with the syrup on it from my daughter’s waffles this morning. However, that is not what I wore for the phone conference. I changed before the call into something more professional, put on make up, and fixed my hair.

Why? Why would I bother? Because science says we should!

The “lipstick effect” is a well-studied phenomenon in psychology. This term refers to the fact that during times of economic recession, women are more likely to purchase products that boost their attractiveness, in the hopes that the use of such products will attract potential partners with economic resources.

This boost in appearance is not just something to be taken at face value, however, because what you wear and how you present yourself also impacts your mental processes and perceptions.

For example, research out of Stanford from Professor Margaret Neale found that when students were asked to write about instances in which they thought they were attractive, they reported that they belonged to a relatively higher social class. By contrast, when students wrote about instances in which they thought they were less attractive, they reported belonging to a relatively lower social class. Interestingly, these effects were found to be specifically for physically attractiveness as similar differences were not found when students were asked to recall instances in which they demonstrated more or less empathy or integrity.

What does this mean? That what we wear can literally impact how we assess our social value.

To learn more about how our appearance can impact other areas of our lives, check out this Spotlight Session!