Sadly, research has found that 75% of women in the UK lack confidence in the workplace and two thirds of UK women suffer from ‘Imposter Syndrome’ at work. Luckily, by being aware of the impact of attire on impression formation and feelings, women can choose the right clothes that will positively impact their self-perception.

Last week, it was my pleasure to reinforce the relationship between fashion and psychology by speaking at Next’s Workwear and Denim event. In an audience made up of influential bloggers and fashion and beauty experts, I revealed the psychological research behind some of Next’s must-have pieces that will enable women to #DressLikeABoss!

Here are 4 takeaways from my talk:

London, UK 23.01.19 Shakaila Forbes-Bell at the Next #DressLikeABoss Denim and Workwear event. Photography: John Hylton

1. Comfort is Key!

Next Cosy Roll Neck Jumper

When putting together your work attire always make sure that you consider your comfort first. An easy way to do this is by introducing soft shapes like skirts and soft fabrics such as jumpers into your wardrobe. This is because studies have shown that clothing comfort effects cognitive performance and uncomfortable clothing is associated with distraction and increased cognitive load. (Bell, Cardello & Schutz 2005)

2. Formal clothes allow you to think differently

Next Double Breasted Relaxed Suit

Taking a formal approach to business attire is advised as research has found that wearing formal clothes makes people think more broadly and holistically, rather than narrowly. It also encourages people to think about the fine-grained details. Additionally, wearing a suit encourages people to use abstract processing more readily than concrete processing. That essentially means it encourages people to think outside of the box (Slepian et al, 2015)!

3. Darker denim is best for High-Low dressing

Next Lift, Slim And Shape Slim Jeans

In more casual work environments, integrating denim into your work attire is an easy way to get the best benefits out of formal and casual clothing. A study on teachers found that those wearing jeans were rated highly on sociability and extraversion and were deemed to be more interesting (Morris et al, 1996). Also, dark denim is associated with higher prices (Rahman, ‎2012) and thus, the wearer may appear more successful.

4. Black clothes evoke authority

Next Black Jumpsuit

According to Damhorst and Reed (1986), managers evaluate job applicants wearing black clothing as possessing more integrity and a greater moral reputation. Managers or those in higher positions are also encouraged to embrace the hue as those wearing black clothing were found to have a greater influence over others in group settings (Vrij, Pannell, Ost, 2005).

London, UK 23.01.19 Shakaila Forbes-Bell at the Next #DressLikeABoss Denim and Workwear event. Photography: John Hylton

Author

Shakaila Forbes-Bell is a Fashion Psychologist and writer who has been featured in Marie Claire UK, i-D, Who What Wear, All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, Fashion Bomb Daily, The Voice Newspaper, Gal-Dem, Black Matters US and more.

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