What You Wear Matters

This blog is about creativity in the corporate setting, but when you think of the typical highly-creative people from recent history, you might think of people who don’t seem to care how they dress. In fact, dressing well could be seen as a way to kill creativity!

I’m here to tell you that that is completely false. Dressing well does not kill creativity, but enhances your image and gives your creative ideas more authority. But dressing well doesn’t always mean dressing formally.

Dressing “Well” versus “Formally”

Take the Rolling Stones, for example. They were the first mainstream band to wear “street cloths” on stage. What would their mothers think?!

But look at their music. Early in their career, their manager said that they could never compete with the Beatles (who were still the mop-topped lads from Liverpool in the early ‘60s). Instead, he suggested that the Stones go for the opposite look of the Beatles.

Instead of being clean-cut boys singing songs like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves Me,” they were to sing songs like “Stoned” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Additionally, they were to dress as bad-boys, wearing street cloths on the Ed Sullivan Show where the Beatles would wear suits.

Their cloths weren’t formal, but they were very carefully chosen to fit their overall brand. If they dressed in tuxedos, they would have looked ridiculous. But in jeans and shirts, they looked exactly how they should.

In the office, you should choose your attire the same way. Wearing a suit everyday (as some might call it, “dressing for the job you want, not the job you have”) may not be appropriate for your office setting. But a tie and blazer can do wonders for your overall daily look.

Dressing your best will not only impress your superiors and colleagues, it does something almost magical. For whatever reason, when you feel that you are the best-dressed person in the room, you will find yourself brimming with confidence. This confidence is felt by all those around you.

Similarly, if you feel that you are the most under-dressed person in the room, you will feel meek. This meekness and self-consciousness will also be felt by those around you. When feeling confident in your look and feeling embarrassed, your colleagues will act accordingly.

Dressing Well and Creative Confidence

You might ask, “How does this tie into creativity?” Well, it’s the inherent problem of having creative ideas that those ideas will seem far-fetched and may even draw criticism.

When you look well, people assume that you are smarter, funnier, and nicer than if you looked shabby. This is called the Halo Effect, and it should never be ignored. It’s one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal and should be used on a daily basis.

When you deliver a new idea while dressed well, you will deliver it with more confidence and it will be received more warmly. When you lead a team dressed like the leader you want to be, you’ll be surprised at how much of a leader you are.

A warning: Don’t let dressing well go to your head. Acting better than every one will instantly turn a room against you, and you and your ideas will be hated.

Along with dressing well should come humility. It’s a contradiction; dressing well will make you feel like the top person in the room, but to actually believe that will be your downfall. To dress as well as the CEO with the humility of the janitor is a rare thing.

As Thomas a Kempis wrote, “Never trust yourself to appear in public, unless you love solitude; to speak, unless you love silence; to come to the front, unless you would sooner be at the back; to give orders, unless you know how to obey them.”


So why not go the extra step of dressing especially well? It will give you more confidence and your ideas more authority. You will have more ease in sharing creative ideas, and you might just think yourself more of a creative.

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