It seems obvious doesn’t it? The idea that being really well-dressed at work will have massive, positive knock-on effects on your career. It’s odd then, that in 2015, most people just don’t strive to look as good as they can for work.
Instead, we might be constantly looking at ways of dressing-down our appearance. Dressdown Friday becomes all week. A tie becomes going in tieless. A suit becomes chinos. Shoes become loafers or sneakers. A shirt becomes a t-shirt. We’re all looking for ways to dress-down.
Why is this? We’ve gone into detail in previous posts as to the real psychological reasons as to why men don’t dress really well. As it relates to the workplace, men don’t want to unnecessarily stand out. If their colleagues are dress-down, then he will not want to dress really well and stand out with his dress sense.
This is the ‘safe’ option. And it means that our man in this example won’t stand out. He won’t feel uncomfortable. He will be in the trenches with his co-workers.
However, let’s get real here. Our man will not likely progress to better jobs or higher levels within the company he works at. Or if he does progress, he might do because he has experience or he has simply put in his time and it’s his turn to move up. He progresses slowly or not at all.
Imagine though, that our man looks at his industry and his workplace and dresses really well *appropriately* for that organisation. (Because clearly what’s appropriate at an investment bank won’t be the same as at a tech company.) He decides to dress as well as he can everyday at work.
He might feel slightly self-conscious and out of place at first but this feeling will soon fade away after the comments coming his way are mostly positive. The negative comments aren’t really that negative and he dismisses them as probable jealousy.
The pride that he takes in his dress-sense carries over into other areas of his work. Tiny things at first. Things like his desk area becoming tidier and more organised. His emails and his telephone manner become more professional.
However, bigger things come soon enough. He notices that he is imperceptibly getting treated differently. He’s getting treated better. It’s not surprising. He walks taller with greater purpose and greater confidence. He contributes more ideas. His managers see this increased confidence and their confidence in him grows. He is distinguishing himself from his co-workers. He is given more client-facing time and more important relationships to manage because he has the self-confidence and becasue he is presentable. The company is proud of him and that he works for them. He looks more like his bosses and is treated accordingly as someone on that track. His career trajectory is now wildly better than it was when he was playing it safe in the trenches.
He’ll get a raise along with his promotions and he’ll be more confident when negotiating his pay reviews. It’s been shown that just one £5k pay rise early in your career can be worth more than £1m over the lifetime of your career, and particularly because those who tend to negotiate once, tend to do so again and again. (See this link and interview of Ramit Sethi for further details.)
In fact, it’s this magical self-confidence that will most turbocharge his career. See this article from The Economist showing how the top 1% at the world’s most prestigious firms win because of their self-confidence.
All this from deciding to be really well-dressed at work? What are you waiting for? Seriously. What?
Key takeaways from this post:
1) You feel much more confident at work when you know you’re really well-dressed.
2) Your confidence will infuse into all aspects of your work.
3) Your managers will notice this and have more confidence in you.
4) You will be entrusted to take on higher profile and higher prestige roles.
5) By dressing really well at work, you will set yourself on a much better career trajectory that if you’d just continued playing it safe and waited for something to happen.
6) By being promoted and being taken more seriously in all aspects, you will get much bigger raises than you would normally do. As we have seen, just a single £5,000 pay rise early in your careers can equate to a difference of more than £1 million over the course of your lifetime.
7) Being really well-dressed at work pays huge dividends.
Let’s get started.
In coming posts, we will look at exactly how we can dress really well for the workplace.