Guest Contributor

How Appearance Affects Career Prospects

By | Dawn Castell

Professional development means receiving all the necessary education and training for your chosen field, sharpening your skills, and increasing your confidence level. Those are the factors that should receive the most weight when it comes to career advancement. Nevertheless, you should not neglect the importance of your appearance to your current and future career prospects. Not only does your appearance affect the way that others perceive you, it can also influence your own productivity. 

Perceptions of Others

The clothes that you wear can affect the way that others perceive you, whether positively or negatively. A professional appearance shows that you care about small details. It gives the impression that you are organized. By contrast, if your clothes are inappropriate, dirty, wrinkled, or in poor repair, it gives a poor impression of your ability to do a job.

Current or prospective employers may look at your clothing and conclude that you do not care enough to take the time to properly maintain it. They may extrapolate that you are lazy or uncooperative with the demands of the workplace. They may also conclude that you are unable to perform simple tasks such as mending, cleaning, or pressing your clothing, which may reflect negatively on your overall competence level. Your clothing may communicate an attitude of apathy or ambivalence, which may raise questions in the minds of others about how much effort you are willing to invest in your job tasks. It may make you appear flighty or flaky, as though you are unable to perceive why your clothing is inappropriate or too distracted to take care of it. As a result, others may conclude that you would be unreliable in a work setting. 

On the other hand, when you dress appropriately for work, in clothing such as wool jackets, it shows that you understand what is expected of you in a professional setting and you care enough to pay attention to details. It demonstrates a basic competence in your ability to care for yourself and suggests organization and attention to detail. It indicates a healthy self-respect as well as consideration for the people around you. 

Even the colors that you choose to wear can make a difference to the way that others perceive you. Darker tones convey confidence and authority, while lighter tones are more friendly and approachable, making them more appropriate for certain positions that involve a lot of social interaction. 

Influence on Productivity

What you wear to work doesn’t only affect others’ perception of you. It can also affect the way you view yourself, whether positively or negatively. When you know you look your best, it can also help you to feel better about yourself. Looking good can increase your confidence in your own ability. As a result, it can help you to focus and concentrate on your work tasks and energize you to carry them out efficiently. 

The colors that you wear can affect you in subtle yet significant ways. For example, blue has the ability to stimulate creativity while evoking a sense of calm. This makes it helpful for a stressful situation at work in which you have to use problem-solving abilities. Blue is also associated with seriousness and knowledge. Wearing this color may give others the impression that you are a powerful person with integrity. At the same time, it may give you more confidence in your own abilities. When you feel confident in yourself, you often find the capacity to exceed what you thought were your own limits. This is not to say that choosing to wear a certain color outfit gives you abilities that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Rather, it inspires you to tap into your own unrealized potential. 

It should be pointed out that dressing appropriately for work does not necessarily mean buying a lot of expensive clothes that you cannot afford. How much your clothing costs is far less important than how clean and neat it is. It can sometimes be difficult to tell what clothing is appropriate for work, especially if your place of employment does not have a dress code. When in doubt, it is preferable to be too formal at work rather than too casual. 

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