The Psychology of Dressing Well (Here’s Why You Must Do It To Get Ahead In Your Career)

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It’s no secret that outward appearances inform perceptions about an individual’s character, status and personality. In fact, scientific studies show upon meeting for the first time we perform a complete mental judgment in a mere 7 seconds. Most of what is assessed in that brief time is based upon what meets the eye.

It’s truly mind-blowing that such superficial elements as makeup, hair, clothing and such additions as tattoos and piercings can have such a monumental impact. And, in no situation is paying attention to these details more critical than when seeking employment.

The way that someone presents themselves and their level of perceived beauty undoubtedly influences the attitude of those around them. Everyone is aware of the power of attraction – a powerful advantage to those who possess it (for the fleeting time that they can hold onto it). Audrey Hepburn famously said, “Elegance is the only beauty that never fades”. It is true that while you can alter what you were born with only so much and that age diminishes beauty’s hallmarks; you can always aim to present yourself with class and style. A tailored blazer, clean and polished footwear, a fresh manicure – the little touches count, particularly in your professional life.

The devil really is in the detail. For example, how you wear your hair. When you boil it all down what we are talking about here are just strands and follicles. How important can hair really be? Wear it dishevelled and it can have you looking cool and casual. However, depending on how you chose to present the remaining elements of your look, it might just spell “shabby”. It pays to care about your hair. A new cut, a glossy finish, or merely tying your hair neatly away from your face are simple, yet effective ways to make yourself presentable for a job interview.

It’s phenomenal just how closely physical presentation and personal identity are intertwined. Your sense of style defines you in society and you can think of it almost as being typecast. However, you can always choose to break the mould. If you can up the ante on your presentation, or even give it a complete overhaul, you gain real
potential to change your future prospects. If you find yourself playing a “role” that you don’t like, remember: “dress for the job that you want, not the job that you have”.

In no industry is presentation and style more relevant than in the field of arts and entertainment; where changing your appearance literally means changing the quality and quantity of roles you can land. If you are a model you will know that getting piercings or tattoos is unadvisable. It is always best to remain somewhat of a blank canvas. That being said, it depends what type of model you are, and there are certainly niche fields. Speaking generally, fashion models are clotheshorses. They require shiny hair, white and even teeth, clear skin (and all the necessary genetic characteristics like height, bone structure and leanness). They also need to be adaptable to varying artistic and visual styles and that is where maintaining a neutral presence becomes important.

However, it is also true that possessing an individual look will get you noticed. Having a distinct sense of style can be particularly beneficial to an actor. Fitting the aesthetic requirements of a particular role is often half the battle in acquiring it. Just think of Christian Bale (who has changed his body weight drastically to garner many different roles) and Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman who both adopted less attractive visages (prosthetics and make up assisted) in bids to win an Oscar.

Changing your look can do a whole lot more than you might anticipate. Natalie Dormer (of Game of Thrones fame) sums it up in an interview with US Glamour magazine – “It’s fascinating how much of our sense of attractiveness and feminine identity is bound up in our hair”. Dormer shaved her head and scored a role in the Hunger Games trilogy – the character demanded this brave style.

Swapping up your looks (even the small details) can give you a fresh perspective. It can entirely alter how you are perceived. And, in some cases changing your appearance might just turn you into an entirely new person! Aligning your presentation and physical attributes with the job you want to land, or the acting role of modelling gig you desire, is the first step in reaching your goals.

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