What are you wearing right now? Don’t judge—just be objective for a moment. Is what you are wearing right now making you feel professional, productive and powerful?

Over the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how what we wear affects how we think. As professionals, does what we wear send a message (to others and ourselves) about who we are? In customer-facing service roles, how we ‘look’ is everything. It sends a strong first impression and offers us the best chance of success in that first interaction. So why should a faceless service role (behind a phone, email or online virtual meeting) be any different?

It would appear the working-from-home arrangements are here to stay. With ongoing lockdowns across cities and the enforcement of mask-wearing in offices, most employees would say they are far more comfortable working from home. For some, comfortable means dressing in track pants and pyjamas—attire they wouldn’t consider wearing if their co-workers and customers were in the room. 

In a recent professional meeting, a client said she wouldn’t be turning on her camera because she hadn’t done her hair and make-up … WOW. How we dress sends a signal to those with whom we interact; therefore, how we dress in our working environment (at home or the office) may be just the ticket to achieving ‘the edge’ in our professional lives. There’s a phenomenon that scientists have dubbed ‘enclothed cognition. I know right?! But it’s simply a term for the idea that clothing impacts how we think. Science claims that the clothes we wear affect our behaviour, attitudes, personality, mood, confidence, and the way we interact with others. In our current environment, I think we could all do with a boost of mood and motivation—taking action in how we dress will create those positive feelings.

My late Nana Joan was a beautiful English lady. She would always say, ‘… dress each day Jaquie, like you are meeting the Queen’. Now I know the Queen won’t be knocking on my door, but what if she does? Will I feel good about how I present myself at that moment?

If you are not dressing to impress others (including the Queen), do it for yourself.

Relying on willpower, especially when working from home, is an uphill and never-ending battle. I’m all for comfortable activewear; however, I’m also aware that my environment, daily habits, and the psychology of what I wear give me the best chance of feeling motivated and inspired to work.

One of the Service Habits we teach is ‘look the part’. This habit is initially about creating a first impression that gives you a greater chance of connection and rapport with whomever you are serving. More importantly, it’s about maintaining a mindset that best supports you to be your best professional self and feeling ready to serve.

Choosing what to wear to present as your best professional self is a useful strategy. When getting dressed for your next working-from-home day, ask yourself: would I wear these clothes if I were going to the office today?

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