Clothes have functional reasons: They cover our skin and keep us warm. In history, we invented formal dress codes and informal fashion trends. For centuries, many do live by the saying “fine feathers make fine birds”. Are these believers right or just shopaholics, fashion victims or even poor souls? If there’s only a modicum of truth in it though, let’s wrap our minds around it the ExperienceZone way.

Your attire talks to you and your surroundings

For a long time, I thought it´s superficial to judge folks by what they’re wearing. However, what I experienced in the last years changed my mind.

In terms of my inner game, I did A/B testing unintentionally. What’s that? Well, A/B testing requires you to build two straw-men and launch them. Based on the reaction of others, you find out whether A or B is more successful. Then you can evolve the prototype to a full-fledged version. In terms of my appearance, I chose clothes based on my daily mood. When I felt sad, I wore dark colors. My dress code would be rather casual. On happy days, I subconsciously went for brighter colors and dressed up more. In hindsight, I realized an interesting effect: My attire reinforced my mindset. The more I dressed up the better I felt. The more shabby my clothes, the worse I felt.

When interacting with others, I experienced something remarkable as well: The reaction of people I met varied with the clothes I wore. The more I dressed up, the better they treated me. Sales men gave me extra discount, clients more effective conversations and women were more willing to date me. Why’s that? Well, it might be a chicken-and-egg thing: If you feel better, you’re more confident. You dress up. People like you more if you’re in line with yourself. So, there might not be a mono-causality between your dress and folks’ reactions but your confidence level and their treatment. Yet your clothes do play an important part in social interactions. If you look into the animal kingdom, those males with the most impressive feather dress gets the female straightaway. The others have to fight hard and be inventive. We’re visual beings like most others with vision. It’s probably our most important sense. Just run a self-check: Would you trust financial advices coming from a beggar?

So, how do you increase your self-confidence and outside perceptions?

Dress to impress. In first place yourself. Here’s what you want to consider:

  1. Run a personality analysis. Gain clarity about where you’re coming from, who you’re and where you want to go. What’s your profession? What are your clients? Which impression do you want to create with your attire? If you’re working in a bank, you want to create a different customer experiences than someone who is a craftsman. Always think about which dress maximizes your credibility in the eyes of the observer.
  2. Clean your wardrobe. Based on the results of your personality analysis, check the clothes you posses. Do you’ve a good balance between, casual, business and functional dresses? Do you actual wear all of them? Can you get rid of some and replace them with new ones if necessary. Make space in your wardrobe as well as life in general. This creates structure and room, which you can refill. Just bear in mind that you can only wear one dress at a time anyway. So, focus on high-quality sustainable clothes rather than cheap shabby ones. You are valuable and want your clothes to reflect that, right?
  3. Dress up but not too much. Prior to every occasion think about what the best dress is. If unsure, call the host (might work for a party but not business meeting). If in doubt, strive to slightly overdress than underdress. You want to stand out positively. Also, observe yourself in the mirror before closing the door behind you. In first place, you need to be satisfied with your physical exterior as it has an impact on your mental interior. If you look important, you feel and behave important. This is a key ingredient of success.