Does what you wear matter when you're working from home?

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December 2021 News

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Regardless of whether you’re working from home, or not, research indicates that more formal dress can assist with confidence, big picture thinking, and attention. We act in a manner consistent with our dress. When we put on a stained t-shirt and an ill-fitting pair of jeans, our brain thinks it needn’t try so hard either.

In a study completed at Yale in 2014 that used 128 men between the ages of 18 and 32, researchers had participants take part in mock negotiations of buying and selling.

Those dressed poorly (in tracksuits and plastic sandals) averaged a theoretical profit of $680,000, while the group dressed in suits amassed an average profit of $2.1 million. The group dressed neutrally averaged a $1.58 million profit.

According to a co-author of the study, the poorly dressed participants often deferred to the suited ones, and the suited participants could sense this heightened respect, backing down less than they might have otherwise.

Clothing carries symbolic meaning and can prime our brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.

Here are four simple guidelines to help you maintain a work dress code while working remotely.

Dress with intention

Think about what you’re going to wear each day, as opposed to throwing on leisure wear or staying in your pyjamas. This indicates to your brain that you value yourself enough to take the time to dress for the day ahead. It doesn’t matter whether anyone will see you. You’ll feel more self-confident when you can look in the mirror and reflect on the person who took a few extra minutes to prepare themselves instead of just rolling out of bed. Now you’re set with a “go get it attitude” for online calls, webinars, meetings, and anything required throughout your day.

Dress with authenticity

Another study found that individuals who feel comfortable showing their personality in some aspect of their dress, even if it may be perceived as quirky or odd, inherently feel more confident, distinguishable, and set apart from the crowd. When you feel like you’re dressing for someone else you undermine your confidence. Don’t allow yourself to feel like you’re playing a part in someone else’s movie. You need to look like “you” and not like “everyone else.” A style development class at House of Colour is all about finding the essence of you so that you can dress authentically for you.

Pay attention to the details

The details and accessories we wear, from lipstick and earrings to necklace, tie or cufflinks, all send out messages to our audience. They give us rank and elevate our look, not only adding to our own confidence but changing how we are perceived by those with whom we communicate. Where you know you’ll be presenting online or participating in online fora then it will pay to pay attention to the details.

If you feel confident in a certain colour, wear it!

The colours you wear are also a consideration. For example, red is perceived as a power colour. Athletes who wore red worked harder during a match than athletes who wore blue. Although this did not affect the outcome, it shows that the colour you wear can impact your level of self-confidence.

When working from home, wearing a power colour can still set the stage for you to challenge your brain and still have productive day. And, if you’ve had a colour analysis then you’ll understand the difference between your best neutrals and your impact colours, your wow colours and your basic colours.