Best Dressed

A graphic showing two people, one showing examples of good fashion and the other showing bad fashion. 

"Dress for success." "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." We have all heard these little platitudes, especially as college students.

A university-level education is a golden ticket opportunity to truly focus our gazes — and futures — on a single career path of our choosing. As a journalism student, I have a great number of opportunities at my feet to gather experience, build a portfolio and open as many doors as possible during these four years.

Though my point here is not specific to journalism majors.

Start here: simply ask yourself, "Do I look the part?"

We have all had to dress up — or dress accordingly — at one point or another. I would actually wager to guess that there has been an event fairly recently in each and every one of our lives that warranted a more dapper dress code. Career fairs, internship interviews, a long-awaited date with the special someone that you finally worked up the courage to shoot your shot with all require fancier attire. Either you have been there, or you wore a T-shirt to your niece's baptism. No judgement.

Why should we not give the same attention to detail in our everyday lives?

When I took Fundamentals of Public Speaking, I would intentionally wear a nicer outfit to class on a day that I was scheduled to present a speech I had prepared. The simple act of stepping up to the podium in a dress and sandals, rather than a T-shirt, shorts and sneakers combo made all the difference. I felt that if I looked the part for the occasion, I could rise to the occasion.

The results of a study from Social Psychological and Personality Science in August 2015 revealed that wearing business attire has the power to increase "abstract thinking, creativity and long-term strategizing." Not only does dressing nicer positively affect a person's mood, it can also carry some sway on our mental and physical performances. Cognition, abstract thinking, productivity and the overall power to work both efficiently and effectively can all be heightened by simply suiting up for the day. You will feel more put together because you are more put together.

Now, I am not saying that all college students should walk into their labs and lectures in formal suits and ties or dresses and heels. Though, I am saying that there should be a distinct difference between what you wear at home and what you wear to work.

Yes, work. Just like any job, being a student is often also described as being either part-time or full-time. It makes sense that our attire should reflect that mentality.

Cathleen Swody, an organizational psychologist and founding partner of the executive-coaching firm Thrive Leadership, told The Wall Street Journal the difference between "work" clothes and "home" clothes also has to do with getting meaningful rest.

"Putting on your relaxation clothes or your 'at home' clothes, shifts your brain into, 'I can relax now. I can shift gears,'" Swody explained.

Another benefit to dressing just a little nicer is that clothing is one of the best ways to wordlessly express who you are to everyone around you. We all have a signature style whether we want it or not. As someone who attended schools with uniforms — the ever classic polo and khaki duo — for more than eight years before entering college, I quickly discovered how fun it can be to coordinate each piece of my outfit before I step outside my front door and greet the day.

Another benefit of dressing stylishly is that people compliment your clothes. Nothing makes my day more than when someone acknowledges that little extra care I put in before I left the house that morning. So, make yourself presentable for that presentation tomorrow. After all, as Brandon Vallorani from Forbes said in his article on looking the part, "It never hurts to be the best dressed person in a room."

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