Does How You Dress Make You More Money?
I worked in my father-in-law’s independent insurance agency in the Washington DC area from the late 70s through 1990. At that time (and I think it continues today), Washington was a very formal city. I never came to work without a suit and tie because that was expected, and you never knew when you would need to see a client.
In 1990 we moved to the Fort Worth, Texas, area where I sold commercial insurance. The “dress culture” was very different from Washington. If I would show up wearing a suit and tie, the prospect would think I was from the IRS. My days in Texas taught me that business casual could work just fine. Even so, I always tried to dress up a bit more.
A popular book in the 70s was John Malloy’s Dress for Success (updated in 1988). He argued that first impressions are very important and that what you wear does make a big difference in how people initially perceive you.
Today, business attire, in general, is much more informal. While there are a few cities where more formal attire is expected (Washington DC, New York City, Boston?), business casual seems to be the norm in most places. This is particularly the case in the online and tech world where T-shirts and shorts are the norms. “Who cares how I look if I can get the job done.”
I do find it interesting that when I wear a bow tie during a presentation, I tend to get more comments from people on how much they like the look. I am not sure if it makes me look professorial or not, but it certainly helps me stand out. It’s interesting to me that the simple addition of a bow tie changes people’s perception.
So, does how you dress make you more money?
I came across an interesting article written by Neil Patel titled How Spending $162,301.42 on Clothes Made Me $692,500.
One of the key points in this article is “People believe what they see. If people think you look successful, in their eyes you are successful.”
I have noticed a few insurance agents over the years who project success. I realized part of their demeanor was confidence and the other was the way they dressed. Their nice looking clothes projected success.
I am going to start an experiment of my own. As you read this, I will be flying to New York City for a presentation on Friday morning. Based on the recommendation of a friend, I have scheduled an appointment for a fitting at Proper Cloth. They make custom shirts. Once they determine my proper shirt size, I can order online anytime and have my custom shirts shipped directly to me.
While I could do the fitting online (it’s an easy process), I decided to have a personal fitting simply because I was going to be in the city. Their shirts cost about twice as much as what I would usually pay from Lands’ End (my current provider of dress shirts).
Will it be worth paying for a custom fitted shirt? I’m not sure yet, but I’m certainly willing to give it a try.
So, what do you think? Does how you dress make a difference in your income? Or, is business casual just fine? Let me know in the Comments below.