Clothes Are Kind of a Big Deal

A colleague of mine recently shared a story about a friend of hers (I’ll call him Juan) who had interviewed for a promotion within his company. Juan and another employee (I’ll call him Mike) were both up for the position.

Juan ended up getting the promotion. After his interview, he said he felt confident he would get the promotion as soon as he saw Mike arrive.

Why was Juan so confident? Mike was wearing shorts, tall athletic socks, sneakers, a T-shirt and – to top it off – a baseball cap, whereas Juan was dressed in Khaki slacks, an oxford style shirt sporting the company logo, and nice shoes.

Based on dress alone, who would you hire … the candidate who showed up prepared for a pick-up game of basketball or the candidate who had dressed appropriately?

Dress for Success

Dressing for success is anything but a new subject; John T. Molloy championed the cause in his 1975 book Dress for Success, which was about the effect of clothing on a person’s success in business and personal life. Molloy argued that you can prepare yourself for success by dressing for it.

The adage “Dress for the position you want” is a good reminder for those who aspire to make their way up the career ladder. Think about it: are you projecting an image of authority and credibility? Do your clothes make you look like you should be taken seriously?

It’s About Personal Branding and Perceptions

What is personal branding?  Simply put, it’s how you market yourself. This is done by determining your message and then communicating the message in all you do.

So, how do perceptions play into personal branding? Here’s an example: You think you’re organized. You show up for a job interview with shoes that haven’t had a good polish for a year. The interviewer perceives that you are not all that organized as you couldn’t even get your shoes looking top-notch for an interview.

No matter how much you tout your organizational skills, your shoes scream disorganized to the interviewer. Yes, even your shoes play a role in your personal branding!

Prepping for a Job Interview? Get Your Wardrobe Together

Much has been written on the topic of appropriate job interview attire. The Internet is full of help when it comes to preparing for the job hunt, and how to best dress for a job interview is no exception. I highly recommend that you read up on the topic, including what NOT to wear at a job interview.

This article originally appeared in the Kuder Blog November 11, 2015