If you asked a roomful of people to explain the phrase “dress for success”, many would describe the look that is often referred to as “business casual.” In other words: formal, but not too formal.

However, as remote work becomes increasingly prevalent, the meaning has changed somewhat. Unless you are attending a video conference, why would you take the time to wear business dress when your commute takes you no further than your dining room table?

Why Is it Important to Dress for Success?

The concept of dressing for success exists for a reason. As highlighted by Scientific American, numerous studies have demonstrated the value of dressing more formally for work. For instance, researchers have found that formal clothing helps us to think more abstractly and negotiate more effectively.

What’s more, as humans, it is in our nature to judge people on appearance whether we intend to or not. Naturally, the clothes we wear play a big part in this. In general, studies show that people prefer it when we wear clothes that match their expectations of us. For instance, we like surgeons to be wearing scrubs. 

In other words, if there is an expectation that employees at your organization dress in a certain way, you will be perceived more positively if you toe the line.

What Does “Dress for Success” Mean in a Remote World?

Remote working has changed many aspects of the business world, and the concept of dressing for success is no different.

When working from home, it can feel natural to favor a more casual look, choosing comfortable clothing because it gives us a sense of freedom, makes us feel more energized, and in turn helps us be more productive. Dressing casually can also make it easier to juggle work and home life commitments, such as looking after children or pets.

However, not everyone feels this way. Some people prefer to dress for success by continuing to sport their typical workday clothes because it helps them get into a working mindset and maintain a sense of routine in an increasingly unstructured world. 

Similarly, changing out of their “business clothes” at the end of a day can help them feel like they are no longer at work, which can make up for the absence of physically leaving the office. This, in turn, can have a positive impact on mental health.

What Role Does Color Play in Dressing for Success?

Dressing for success is about more than the types of clothing we wear. The color of those clothes can also play a part. In fact, the color of our clothes can have a big influence on how we feel and the image we portray to others:

●    Yellow is a warm color that is said to encourage feelings of positivity and drive creativity.
●    Red is a dramatic color associated with confidence and energy.
●    Green is a restful color that has been shown to inspire productivity and creativity.
●    Orange is a stimulating color that helps us feel enthusiastic and energetic.

To dress for success while working remotely, you must strike a balance between being comfortable and presentable. You must maintain a professional appearance in meetings, while also dressing in a way that helps you feel most energized and productive.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this. Every business is different, and every individual has their own working routine in preferences. The key lies in finding your personal balance while maintaining a professional appearance when necessary.

If you would like more information on remote working, or any other career insights, please browse our advice section