There is much debate about what is deemed appropriate attire in the workplace. Some argue that our professional work attire has evolved with each generation, with many people simply uninterested, possibly lackadaisical in how they look. Others, myself included, stand firm in the notion that appearances are important and first impressions are even more critical. “Dress to impress” or “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” are two mottos that I stand by when describing professional attire in the workplace. Along these lines of argument, there is controversy as to what one considers professional attire, such as a shirt and tie for men and a nice dress for women. If you are going to work you are there for a purpose. You must be professional in how you conduct yourself, and what you wear plays an important role in that.

Still, others would strongly argue that in this generation full of technology and more relaxed working conditions, that a nice pair of jeans and a semi-fashionable T-shirt is the way to go. Although Mark Zuckerberg would likely agree with the latter, given that every public appearance highlights his personal “fashion statement”, I disagree with this philosophy. For the everyday working American though, the Zuckerberg look may not be an everyday option for those of us who have a boss!. Branching off of this idea of comfort and the correlation of “feeling good and doing good”, there are numerous ways to remain professional while still remaining comfortable. I like to call these workplace attire “hacks”. With the numerous resources available, there is really no need or excuse to not be comfortable in your professional work clothes.

Companies work hard to produce empowering and bold clothing that are meant for professional situations, that are comfortable yet still give the air of the typical pant suit or skirt suit. I am NOT in favor of the hideous “Clintonesque” pant suit… a topic that speaks and visualizes all on its own. I’m referring to the trendy new designs that are readily available online and in many clothing stores today. I am also a big believer in first impressions, and my father often tells me that “You can’t undo a first impression once it’s made”.

In a recent study reported by the Wall Street Journal Study , conducted by Michael W. Kraus, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management. His data showed an unarguable correlation between “clothes associated with high social status can increase dominance and job performance in “high-stakes competitive tasks.” The comprehensive study researched 128 males between the ages of 18 and 32 who went through different rigorous activities and mock events that resembled true business deals. The studies showed that “wearing nicer clothes may raise one’s confidence level, affect how others perceive the wearer, and in some cases, even boost the level of one’s abstract thinking, the type in which leaders and executives engage.” This is very strong evidence that further solidifies the cliche phrase of “dress for success” that we have all heard during our childhood and growing up. Dressing professional turns your mindset into a professional one. Just like if you are having a bad day and you force yourself to smile, your mood gets better. I can speak from experience when I say that this data is true!

Second semester of my senior year I was lucky enough to be chosen for a competitive internship through the “Invitation to Teaching” program. The internship was at a local elementary school, where I assisted my cooperating teacher with lesson plans, grading, and many other fun “teachery” tasks. My cooperative teacher was super trendy, young, and professional. I emulated her teaching style, and I hope to have similar, successful classroom management skills when I have my own classroom. Aside from this, I had to dress professionally. Especially because my cooperating teacher, Jessica Schultz, looked so cute and nice everyday. Being a second semester senior, the last thing I wanted to do was dress professionally to school everyday before leaving at 1 PM to drive to my internship. Through trial and error, I learned that it is not hard to dress for yourself, while being comfortable, and professional. I went on Pinterest and found Easy alternatives and extremely helpful tips. Not only did I feel good teaching, but it added to my ethos as an educator and increased my work ethic.

Dressing in a professional manner for work is easier to do than ever before. With the ever evolving comfortable yet professional ways of fashion today, it is very possible to still be comfortable and professional for work. There are numerous “beauty bloggers” that suggest comfortable substitutions for everyday, typical work attire. Presenting yourself in a positive way gives off the air of confidence and success; dressing well increases the chances of giving off that “vibe”. The positives of dressing professionally far outweigh the possible negatives. Work is a professional atmosphere, hence you should sport something professional.

Works Cited:

Curtis, Jacqueline. “What to Wear to Work-Tips for 4 Types of Office Dress Code Policies.” Money Crashers. SparkCharge Media, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016.

Elliot, David A. “Return of The Dress Code.” American Secondary Education, vol. 13, no. 3, 1984, pp. 26–26.

Erica Villanueva. “The New York Times — Breaking News, World News & Multimedia.” Business Casual Isn’t Going Anywhere for Some Professions. The New York Times Company, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.

Heather Poole. “When a Uniform Is Office Attire, Thousands of Feet in the Air.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

Mahrer, Richard A. “One Doctor’s Dress Code Dilemma.” The American Journal of Nursing, vol. 85, no. 11, 1985, pp. 1230–1231.

RAY A. SMITH. “Why Dressing for Success Leads to Success.” Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016

Workplace Fairness — Employee Rights, Job Rights, Workers …” Your Rights Dress Codes and Grooming. 2016 Workplace Fairness Powered by Midwest New Media, LLC, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.