Dressing For The Brain

Staying on the topic of hiring, I’m grateful that I’ve been offered a job. It’s in an industry I have practically no knowledge on – medical devices. Life is like waiting for the buses – when you want it, it doesn’t arrive. When it does arrive, they all come together.

Sometimes you win some, you lose some. I’m taking this new chapter of my career with an open mind. It’s always good to step out of my comfort zone and challenge the unknowns, I assured myself.

That aside, this new workplace employs a casual dress code. That means I can walk in with jeans and a white top, a style I’m really comfortable with. But having spent three years wearing formal business attire, I’m accustomed to getting up every morning and opening the wardrobe with pieces of crisp white shirt and tailored pants. It feels different, ala Don Draper coolness. I’m a huge fan of Mad Men and I admire how well fitted their overall attires are. They seemed to bring out the best in the men and adds a air of confidence to their stature.

I felt the same. Compared to the Friday dress downs, I felt more in control, more authoritative and better equipped to perform analytical tasks and speaking out during meetings in business attire. Apparently, I’m not alone. Our dress style influences our thinking, behaviour and how others perceive us.

Consider this article by Dr. Christian Jarrett, writing for 99U:

So whatever project you’re currently working on, consider dressing for that role. Think what clothing symbolizes the attributes you need to succeed and wear those threads while you work. If there’s nothing as obvious as a lab coat, why not look to role models in your field and see what they wear – perhaps something flamboyant for when you want to be creative, a shirt and tie for when you’re working on the accounts. The important thing is that the clothing has the right symbolic meaning for the work you’re doing. In the study, the white coat had no attentional benefits when the students thought it was a painter’s jacket, not a scientist’s coat.

This got me thinking of on what type of attire I should report in next week. It’s a trivial thing in certain sense, but it has a significant psychological effect on how I behave.