Why do people always say “dress for the part you want” and why it actually works!

Have you ever been told not to dress for the job you have, but the job you want?

About 5 years ago, my father was working at a hospital doing hyperthermia research( and physics things that I do not understand enough to even explain it here.) The hospital’s dress code allowed him to wear jeans. My Dad always wore a dress shirt, tucked in to his belted jeans, and dress shoes. One day he was in an elevator and a man in a suit asked him if he could change a light bulb- he thought my dad was a maintenance man. Why? Because he was wearing jeans.

The man assumed that my dad was not a business man, or a doctor, or a scientist because of how he was dressed. Now in my Millennial mind.. this is garbage. I can’t believe that happened- but it’s true and my dad has worn dress pants to work every day since.

Why should it matter what I look like if I am the right person for the job? The truth is that it doesn’t. It goes much deeper than that.

The Power of the “Thing”

At some point in your life you have probably heard the term “power heels” or the song that goes “..these boots were made for walkin'” – when a woman wants to feel powerful she fastens her power heels and can take on anything. Have you ever met a person claiming that they can’t play basket ball without their lucky socks? Or do you have a grandmother who will never leave the house without lipstick? These are the things of power.

When we dress for the part we are empowering ourselves to believe that we are the best for the job, that we are confident or that we are capable. When you put on those heels to give a presentation and you get up there and you feel good about yourself, you are embodying that confidence and power. When you go to a club to go dancing, you put on your favorite skirt that makes you feel sexy you will portray yourself as sexy. If you feel great, you can trick your brain into thinking that you are great, confident, sexy; and most people will never be able to tell the difference.

Yes, it is true. We are human. The things we do, the things we eat, the things we care about, the things we work our asses off for, as well as the way we dress are all influenced by our desire to be viewed a certain way by other people. The hard truth is, this is the easy part. Impressing someone else or getting their attention, or maintaining that “front” is easy. You cater to what it is that you know that they value in this world. Your significant other likes a girl in heels? Easy. Go get yourself a pair pumps and wear them out all night, forget about if they kill your calves and you can’t walk the next day without screaming in pain on the inside. Your boss comments that she is ga-ga over the new Urban Decay lipstick? Easy. Spend a quarter of your paycheck and upgrade your make-up arsenal, it is sure to impress her. Just be sure to also grab a pack of Top Ramen, because you probably won’t be able to afford the luxury of healthy, more pricey food the rest of the week. The point is that yes, we naturally want to grab the attention of the people in our lives. That is totally natural. But, find the balance of doing “for them” and doing “for you”. If that Urban Decay lipstick makes you feel sexy AF, confident and most importantly HAPPY, then spend the extra cash for it. Do it for you. And be extra happy because you are also going to get some brownie points from your boss. But, if you are struggling this month to pay the rent and the bills and for the oil change that you’ve been putting off for three months, then find the compromise of what is going to make you happy, what will impress the boss and what you need to maintain you happiness over time (I promise that belated oil change is worth more than a new shade of lipstick in the long run!).

We are adults. We play so many roles in our daily lives and are constantly being pulled in so many different directions. Finding that “happy place” is often difficult, stressful and absolutely time consuming. Dressing the part is a little way of finding that balance in yourself. It means more than just dressing in a way that is going to get you that promotion. It is about dressing in a way that is going to make you feel that you are the most deserving of that promotion, because you totally are. So, go out and try new things with your wardrobe. Figure out what piece of apparel will get you to that point of feeling the most powerful and the most confident, and as happy as you could possibly be. Go get those bangs you always wanted and rock them! If you feel it, they will most definitely notice.

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