In this extremely competitive business environment, you need every advantage possible to advance in your career. Dressing the part for your workplace environment is an important element of this. For all the diversity and intellectual gains we’ve made in business in the last 30 years, remember you are still dealing with people. And people form quick first impressions, which are either positive or negative based on what they see. You can make the power of first impressions work for you by dressing correctly.

Dress for the Job You Want, not the Job You Have

This is an old adage in the business world. The reason it has stuck around so long is because it remains true. How you project yourself is how people initially evaluate you. And if you dress for the job you want, people subconsciously will visualize you as capable for that job. This is by no means a substitute for competence and hard work. If you don’t do your job well or are lazy, all the top business fashion in the world won’t help you. But it’s not fair to you to undermine your professional capabilities by under dressing at work. If you want that bigger job and are capable of holding it, dress like you already have it.

Dress Appropriately for Your Workplace Environment

Casual Fridays ushered in a less formal work dress environment that many companies still adopt. However, you should not take advantage of that by wearing inappropriately relaxed clothing. Unless you work in a recreation or creative environment, leave the flip flops, shorts, baseball caps and tees at home. Always maintain your sense of professionalism, be it in terms of your performance or what you wear to work. Dressing too formal for your workplace environment can be detrimental as well. If the accepted office environment allows for daily business casual dress but you always show up in high fashion suits, people may perceive you as arrogant, trying too hard or insincere. None of these impressions will help you advance up the career ladder. Be well dressed and professional, but make sure it is appropriate for your company’s work environment.

Your Customers Need You to Look Like a Success

The people you do business with want to feel they made the right choice by investing their time, money or other resources with your company. If you look unkempt or your briefcase looks like a tank rolled over it, you project the image that you are not succeeding and neither is your company. It will look like you don’t have the money or resources to have a professional appearance. Your customers have many business options and have increasing pressure to justify why they spend what they spend with their vendors or partners. Don’t give them subconscious doubts about your professional abilities or your company’s solvency by dressing or accessorizing with items that project failure.

Luxury Options at Affordable Prices

Dressing well does not have to cost you a bundle and you can find high quality business clothes that fit your price range. Brands like J. Hilburn offer tailored and fitted luxury men’s clothes at an affordable price. Worth provides the same options for women. These clothes are made with high in quality fabric, but at a much lower cost than comparable luxury brands in department stores. Plus they offer made to measure clothes that are personalized for you. The feeling you get from wearing clothes that are tailored for you and make you look good may stoke that positive attitude within that is important to business success and career advancement.

Image consultant John T. Molloy introduced this subject in the late 1970s with his first title, “Dress for Success” and has since written several updates to the original. While dressing properly to project a successful image is important, what you do and how you do it on the job is more important than how you look. But right or wrong, people make professional first impressions on how you are dressed in business. Why not give yourself a professional advantage by dressing the part?