Dressing for Success: How Style Affects Business

Being an entrepreneur and developing your personal brand is just as important as building your business. Your personal brand is built from online presence and in person human connections. These connections and business developments all stem from those initial meetings. Clothing and fashion plays a vital role in helping you literally dress for success.


This article seeks to discuss various ways individuals interested in boosting their business can use clothing to impact their performance. It’s all about knowing what clothes provide what perceptions in the eye of the individual you are trying to befriend, impress or perhaps even intimidate.

Can outfits increase intelligence?

Clothes obviously can’t have an affect on your actual intelligence, however, certain outfits can have positive cognitive implications. A study a few years ago, in Social Psychology discovered that formal dress increased abstract thinking and in the test, improved their scores on cognitive tests. In this sense, wearing a typical suit may actually be having benefits on the work you create.


When analysing their data, the researchers mentioned this could be relating to feelings of power. This is common and you’ve definitely heard of it before; power dressing. Recently, Hollywood stars donned all black in a power-dressing statement, but to take this to the boardroom you need suits, tailored skirts and blouses or other formal attire.

What is the best thing to wear to a meeting?

Now we’ve asserted that to increase your cognitive prowess, formal attire is best, but there is also evidence to suggest that formal wear increases negotiating power.


A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that people in suits and formal office-style clothes were more likely to be successful in negotiating. This would be advantageous in finance meetings, client pitches or just about anything to get your entrepreneurial effort off the ground.

Is the time of the suit gone?

A study published this year found that only 1 in 10 people wear a suit to work. This is indicative of the changing sphere of work with more flexible hours and laid back attitudes, but these people could be missing out on the potential benefits of power dressing. Newer methods are not always better, but they do have some advantages in today’s business world.


Workers in this study stated that dressing how they wanted over typical suits allowed them to express their individuality and made them more comfortable. These two points are crucial when deciding how fashion will impact your business acumen.

How to formally express individuality

If you’re in a formal meeting, dressing how you want may not be an option despite how comfortable you feel. If you want to express your individuality and help investors remember you, it’s key that you need to slightly deviate from the norm.


A study in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2014 found that people who wore red trainers were remembered and found to be positively received as they appeared to take educated risks. Take this into the boardroom, that’s where the idea of wearing a red tie or a something memorable comes about.


If you can wear casual wear, patches on leather jackets are ideal for staying in the mind of people you are meeting, as are coloured-rimmed glasses; just as long as they aren’t counterfeit.

Counterfeit goods

It’s important not to wear fake designer clothes or accessories, like glasses, in case you get caught out. A study in Psychological Science 2010 found that women wearing fake sunglasses were perceived as suspicious and that the wearer’s perceived those around them also as suspicious. It instills distrust in everyone in the room and is not something you want to bring into business meetings.

What to take away from this

Ultimately, you need to wear whatever is comfortable for you and appropriate for the occasion. Formal meetings with investors mostly don’t call for trainers, unless that’s what your brand is trying to represent.


Suits may be outdated for some industries but they definitely still hold a place in many businesses and won’t be going out of fashion any time soon. Timeless pieces like leather jackets, jeans and boots are a good way to walk a smart-casual line if you feel you don’t need to go down the typical suit and tie route. Just remember, wear something comfortable with a memorable addition that’s definitely not counterfeit.


Ian Blackburn, managing director of Hidepark Leather