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Archive for the “Sartorial Splendor” Category

maxresdefaultZig Ziglar says the following:  “You cannot climb the ladder of success in the costume of failure.”   I would say this applies both to the inner man and the outer man.

One of the tricks I’ve used over the years to manage my internal leadership self-image and my depressive bad moods, is simply to go into my office on bad days in my best finery.  Yup.  Think about maybe one step down from my opera duds.  It bloody well changes my mood as well as my appearance.

Well, lo and behold, my personal self-manipulation actually may have some scientific credence.

The Wall Street Journal had an article last week entitled “Why Dressing For Success Leads to Success.”  It posits that when we wear nicer clothes we actually achieve more, based on a number of recent academic studies.

The WSJ  reports that in 2014 Dr. Michael Kraus showed that clothes with high social status increased your personal efficacy.  It seems 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.”  krausProfessor Kraus says his research shows that, particularly in competitive, winner-take-all situations, wearing more formal clothing signals others “about your being successful and real confident in whatever you’re doing.”

But the WSJ evidence is not just about the external effect of your sartorial splendor but also the internal.  Results from a case study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science titled “The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing,”  published last year, suggested that people use higher levels of thinking when they dress up.  “When some 361 participants were asked to complete tasks, the ones dressed more formally engaged in the kinds of abstract thinking that someone in a position of power, like a senior executive, would deploy.”  Subjects were quicker to see the big picture when dressed formally.  They seemed to see better the forest as well as the trees.

Michael Slepian of Columbia University (and co-author of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science article) says, “People who wear that kind of clothing feel more powerful.  When you feel more powerful, you don’t have to focus on the details.”

Also, note the work of Dr. Adam Galinsky, who says in a New York Times piece entitled ‘Mind Games: Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat,’ “Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state.”  D511-_William_Shakespeare_-_liv3-ch14Galinsky calls this “enclothed cognition.”

Hmm.  Maybe that’s why Donald Trump is doing so well in the presidential primaries.  He’s always wearing elegant suits and power ties.  Perhaps that’s part of his secret to “winning.”

Well, pardon me while I go and throw on my new frock.  I have a meeting coming up and, as William Shakespeare says in Hamlet:  “The apparel oft proclaims the man.”  Thank you, William Shakespeare.

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I don’t think entrepreneurs pay enough attention to their attire.  Call me shallow.

In the past I’ve written occasionally about clothes and entrepreneurship. (See May 23, 2010) Mostly I think clothes are important from a personal branding point of view.

Potential clients and customers make quick assumptions about you before you say a word. Your clothes can make an eloquent statement about who you are and what you represent before you open your mouth.  (I’ve always thought there would be a very good living for some fashionista in consulting on bespoke branding with executives, owners, and salesmen.)

Let me hark back here again to Steve Jobs. He wore black turtlenecks.  This said a great deal about his personal values and the user-friendly elegance of his products.  It spoke simplicity.  He was who he was.  He was sincere and spartan.

So, how do I apply this to myself as an entrepreneur?

Simple.  My clients use my firm Corporate Rain to initiate discrete, high-end business with c-suite people and corporate decision-makers.  I need to look the peer of my clients, to look like like I belong.  I want to create the visual assurance of stability, almost like the look of a banker.  I do this partially by investing in expensive, highly-tailored suits.  Almost like the look of a traditional banker.  (The truth is I’m an old hippie who has lived a quite bohemian, unbusinessmanish life.

Tangentially, there was an interesting article in the NY Times on April 4, 2012 entitled “Mind Games:  Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat.”  (Sandra Blakeslee-Science Section)  The article cites a recent study by Adam D. Galinsky of the Kellogg School at Northwestern concerning enclothed cognition: the effects of clothing on the cognitive process.  Dr. Galinsky states, “Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state.”

For example, in one of Dr. Galinsky’s experiments, when a subject wears a white coat that he believes belongs to a doctor, his ability to pay attention increases sharply.  But if he wears the same white coat believing it belongs to a painter, he will not show improvement.

In other words, your clothes define you for other people, but they also define you to yourself and can affect your inner efficaciousness.

You don’t need to hire a personal stylist or to be a fashion plate to accomplish inner and outer personal branding. You just need to think about it a little.  It’s mostly common sense.  If it serves your image to wear t-shirts, wear t-shsirts.  If it serves you to be elegant, be elegant. If it serves you to dress in drag, by all means, dress in drag.

As Shakespeare says in Hamlet,  “The apparel oft proclaims the man.”

Thanks, William.

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