Superficial as it may be, appearance matters. People form first impressions in a matter of seconds, based on how one look and how one presents oneself. Clothing impacts success, as it defines a person and influences one’s thinking process.
The article “Study: First Impressions Really Matter,” by Lee Dye for ABC News, reveals the shocking results of college professors Michael Sunnafrank and Artemio Ramirez Jr.’s study on first impressions among college freshmen. In the study, the freshmen were paired and asked to interact for either three, six, or ten minutes, and then report their first impressions of each other. At the end of nine weeks, the students were asked to reevaluate their partners, to see whether on not their first impressions were correct. Surprisingly, almost all of the students’ first impressions resembled their nine-week evaluations. Therefore, first impressions are vital, and because they are brief, appearance plays a large role.
“The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing,” a study by Columbia University’s Michael Slepian and California State University’s Simon Ferber, Joshua Gold, and Abraham Rutchick, examined the effect of formal clothing on people’s minds. The results showed that people who dressed in formal attire exhibited more holistic thinking and abstract processing than those in casual wear. They also felt more powerful and confident than their casual counterparts.
Abstract processing allows people observe the world on a broader scale. For instance, using concrete processing to describe a common sport results in “a tennis match.” Using abstract processing results in “tennis,” which encompasses more angles to expand upon than a mere match. This processing technique is especially handy at school or a workplace environment because it allows one to think more broadly, correct mistakes rather than dwell on them, and accept constructive criticism.
Confidence also affects one’s abilities. According to the study, “The Relationship Between Confidence and Performance Throughout a Competitive Season,” by Utah State University’s Benjiman Skinner, confidence influenced sports teams’ winning percentages. Although school differs from sports, the conclusion of Skinner’s study holds true for both entities. If a student feels confident about an exam, then that student has a higher chance of passing it than a student who studied for the same amount of time, but lacks confidence.
Obviously, clothing profoundly impacts one’s first impression and one’s abilities and confidence, but how exactly does one dress for success? Jacquelyn Smith’s article, “Here’s How Your Clothing Affects Your Success,” from BusinessInsider.com lists tips to ensure that one dresses appropriately. She advises readers to refrain from showing too much skin and wearing wrinkled clothing. Furthermore, wearing clothes that fit well adds polish to one’s ensemble. Also, one should avoid flashy jewelry or over-the-top makeup as to not detract attention from tasks at hand. For school, that means a tailored outfit and a clean look could be the difference between an A or a B.
Nice clothing makes one sharp and confident, and confidence influences success. Therefore, clothes largely determine if one succeeds or fails. It’s a vicious cycle. Whether in school, in an interview, or in the workplace, an outfit defines a person. Make your definition bold; dress for success.
Written by Kayla Klein
Photo from Front Range Community College
Originally published in the print edition on September 30, 2015