Recently, my wife showed me a post about 10 things why dressing up is overrated and if you’re a regular follower of the Gentleman’s Gazette, you probably know that I would not agree with that statement.
That being said, I do dress down on occasion which means I dress less formally than I usually do. The basic arguments in that article were that one, it costs money and two, it wastes time, and three, that it panders to what other people think of you rather than what you think of yourself.
I think there is real value in not caring what other people think of you because oftentimes, it can just cloud your judgment and you just live for other people rather than yourself. There is a limited usefulness to that attitude. Men’s Wearhouse had a survey and almost 3 out of 4 men felt that they are underdressed all the time. If you’re in that state of mind when you’re not dressed up to par, you simply lack a certain element of confidence. Being confident is a very important factor in how you’re perceived, how people think of you, and ultimately, where you end up in life.
The truth is we live in a society, we don’t live in a vacuum just for ourselves, and the way you dress and the way you appear to others has a huge impact whether you want it or not. The truth is also that it does cost some money to dress up. Even if you do have to spend a little more, it really pays to look at it more of an investment rather than an expense.
Why are we paying money for clothes to be considered an investment? Well, if you get a classic wardrobe that you can wear for many years to come, the cost per wear is very little. At the same time, when people see you, they think of you more highly, they respect you more, and they deem you more competent, it will have a direct impact on your paycheck.
Nine Reasons Why Being Underdressed Is Overrated
1. People Won’t Take You Seriously
As a consequence, you won’t take yourself as seriously and you will think that you can’t achieve certain things even though you could do them. No matter the situation, dressing well gives you an air of authority and it usually means dressing up. Yale conducted an interesting study of mock real estate negotiations; they had men dressed up, dressed neutral, and dressed down. The men who dressed down felt at a disadvantage from the get-go and ultimately, they lost more money and deferred more money to the people who were better dressed.
Interestingly, the well-dressed men sensed this insecurity and they were less likely to budge, they maintained their position, and they walked away with a much better position than the people who were dressed down or dressed neutrally. Interestingly, the professor of that study noted that animals respond to signals of dominance and for humans, it certainly is the business suit.
You may argue that some of the richest men in the world are extremely dressed down such as Mark Zuckerberg. At the same time, when Mark Zuckerberg appears or when an article is written about him, oftentimes, people refer to the fact that he’s dressed down a lot so it almost taints his accomplishment in a certain way. Even if that’s not the case, it’s a distraction, at the least. At the last congressional hearing, he showed up in a suit, people noticed and it was a signal that said “I’m taking this very seriously”, so by dressing up, you can purvey this kind of message that you respect others and in turn, they will respect you more.
2. People Who Dress Up Make More Money Over The Course Of Their Career
Think about it, if your boss doesn’t take you seriously and if he doesn’t respect your work, why would he promote you? Even if you don’t believe the studies and think that it the workplace has changed, 75% of men think that their well-dressed counterparts are more successful in their jobs.
3. You Look Less Attractive
You can’t change your physical features aside from working out and even if you work out, the fact remains that if you wear a suit or if you dress up, if you dress well, you will always look better than the equivalent person in a t-shirt and sweatpants. So yes, it’s true! Most people would probably argue that Daniel Craig in a t-shirt looks better than I do in a suit and they’re quite right.
At the same time, I’m arguing that Daniel Craig in a suit would look even better than Daniel Craig in a t-shirt. Also, the good thing is you can take action and change your clothes and will likely be a lot quicker than changing your bodily physique. If that is not enough for you, 78% of the women in a survey said that they prefer men who dress well.
4. Dressing Down Will Keep You From Doing Things
When you wear sweatpants and a t-shirt, you don’t feel it’s appropriate to go out on the street so you just stay in, hang out on the couch, order pizza and watch Netflix. In my opinion, your clothes should not hold you back, they should help you move forward. Honestly, these days, all it takes is a pair of chinos, a dress shirt, nice leather shoes, and you’re probably prepared for most of the situations out there. If you want to put on a sport coat or a blazer, you are better dressed than 90% of the men you’ll encounter.
5. Dressing Down Makes You Look Lazy
Yes, it’s easy and cheap to buy a pair of t-shirt and sweatpants, at the same time, that’s exactly the message you communicate “I’m cheap and lazy”.
6. What You Wear Is Not Just About You
Tom Ford once said that dressing well is a form of good manners and if you think about it, it’s a form of showing respect to others, it’s a form that you show respect for the event you’re at, and in turn, you will earn more respect from others for that. Just the other day, I read a comment from one of our YouTube viewers and he said that he was never as embarrassed before as when he had a business event with a co-worker and the co-worker showed up in a sports Jersey that was way too tight with a deep cut out and he just felt so embarrassed.
That probably had an impact on how he approached this meeting and I’m certain he could have achieved more if his colleague would have dressed up more. So whenever there is a dress code and you disregard it and dress down, it’s a sign of disrespect and not having those particular clothes is not a real good excuse because you could even rent a tuxedo or get an inexpensive one and put in a little effort.
7. Dressing Well Makes You Feel Confident & Powerful
In turn, that leads to you doing things that you otherwise might not have done if you were dressed down. It could be things like asking your boss for that raise or asking out that woman that you have a crush on. Putting on a nice suit has an effect on your posture, the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you look, and the way you interact, and who wouldn’t want to feel more confident and powerful?
8. Dressing Down Costs More In The Long Run
Yes, t-shirts are inexpensive and so are sweatpants, at the same time, they’re usually made of low-quality materials and so they wear out a lot more. That means you have to invest more time to go to the mall or to shop online and if you value your time, as well as the natural resources, dressing down and dressing cheaply is really not that cheap in the long run. Ultimately, you will just keep spending more and more money and it’s like a slot machine in Vegas. At the same time, you always look crappy. On the flipside, if you invest in a nice pair of shoes and you can resole it and wear it for 15 or 20 years down the line, you probably spend less if you consider the cost per wear of your shoes.
9. You Never Know Who You’re Going To Meet
A couple of years ago, I was on an airplane flight and when I travel, I always try to dress well, that means I wear a jacket, I wear some chinos, some leather shoes, I wear a bow tie or regular tie, and that really makes me better dressed than 99.9% of people who fly.
So it turned out, I was sitting next to a US bank executive, we were talking and I was telling him that I had a business and that was banking with US bank and recently, I’d applied for a credit line and they thought they could only give me $30,000. Two days later, I received an email from him and I had a credit line for $100,000 and my banker called me up and was like “Wow how did you do that?”, and all it took was being well dressed, sitting to the right person at the right time who looked at me and respected me and thought highly of me and believed that I was worth a credit line of $100,000.
Now, that’s not something you can plan for but ultimately, if you’re dressed up regularly, chances of you encountering situations where it will be to your advantage or much higher than if you just show up in sweatpants and a hoodie.
So in summary, dressing down makes you feel less confident, makes you feel less powerful, and it will earn you less money over the course of your career. It also doesn’t make you look intelligent or successful and as a consequence, people respect you less and think of you less highly. Yes it is true, dressing down may cost you less but compared to the earning potential of dressing up and the cost per wear, it actually may hurt your wallet.