When you work from home, do you produce better results in pajamas or professional attire? Do casual Fridays damage productivity? Does a jeans-and-T-shirt startup have an edge over its business-casual competitor?

Researchers are just now getting to the bottom of questions like these. The answers depend on the symbolic power the particular item of clothing has in the mind of the particular wearer. 

Hajo Adam, a professor of management and researcher at Rice University’s School of Business, explains how he and Adam Galinsky, a business professor at Columbia University, conducted the studies that showed people wearing lab coats perform better on tests of mental ability than people wearing street clothes.

It turns out that if you wear a white lab coat, like one belonging to a doctor, your ability to pay attention increases, you function at a higher level, and others see you as more intelligent or professional.  Wow, no small change there!

 We’ve all had the experience of feeling more motivated and focused when we’re dressed up for work. Wearing a suit or jacket has a symbolic meaning as does wearing flip flops and track pants.  

Jackson Lewis, a US law firm that specializes in personnel issues, polled more than 1000 HR executives who had implemented a dress down policy. They reported a thirty percent increase in flirtatious behaviour, contributing to an increase in sexual harassment lawsuits. That’s a frightening statistic!

I think you would all agree that when you wear more powerful looking clothing (e.g. professional business attire, a suit, darker colours, etc.) and clothing that is appropriate for your profession, it changes your mindset — switching you from “relaxed mode” to “professional mode.”

This positive change in attitude is reflected in body language and behaviour (e.g. better posture, firmer handshake, maintaining eye contact, sticking to business, etc.), giving you greater visual power.

 IPSOS is a global research survey based company and in 2010, they interviewed 12691 employees from 24 countries aged 18-64.  A majority (55%) of workers believe that wearing a more prescribed workplace or business attire makes people more productive. 

Decades of research in the behavioral sciences reveals that we have far less control over our behavior than we think.  We generally assume that our behavior is far more conscious or self-directed than it really is.  Truth be known, it’s not.  Nonetheless, we are far more affected by small changes in our physical environment than we realize or understand.  

The most effective way to control your life and behavior is to take control of the things that control you.  That said, the easiest thing you can control is your environment and your most immediate environment is your clothing-much like a second skin.  Something we can control is the clothing we buy and choose to wear each day, as well as our grooming habits.

Even when we do recognize the impact our clothing is having on us, most people rarely know what to do about it.  That’s where I come in with accurate personal branding information and relevant wardrobe strategies that are practical, easy to apply, and support your professional and personal goals. 

Tomorrow as you start your working day whether it be at home or in the office think about what you plan to wear for the day. Chances are it will have some impact on your quality of output!

P.S If you’d like to learn more about your personal brand, colour and style, feel free to check out out, “The Art Of Self Packaging For Success (3 Hour recording of a live workshop)” or “The Rise Of The Empowered Women (7 step quest with video’s within a closed Facebook group).