What you wear to meetings matters. I learned this years ago, during my very brief (I’m not kidding. It was two weeks) career as an ad copywriter, when I was duly chastised for showing up to a client meeting in a jean skirt and tank top.

People take you more seriously when you look sharp. So says this infographic created by design agency NeoMam for web hosting service 34SP.com. While some of the information might seem obvious – wear a blazer, comb your hair – we don’t all follow this advice when it comes down to it (as I just demonstrated). But we probably should.

34SP surveyed small business owners and found the following:

• 55% of people surveyed agree that wearing business attire makes people more productive.
• 20% believe that those wearing casual dress in the workplace are “slackers.”
• 66% agree that senior managers should always be more dressed up than their employees.

Interesting. I worked from home, usually in my pyjamas, for years, and I was incredibly productive. Still, their claim appears to be backed up by other research.

A 2012 study looked at the effects of wearing a lab coat. According to the study authors, “A pretest found that a lab coat is generally associated with attentiveness and carefulness.” So, they theorized that wearing one would increase performance on attention-related tasks, and they were right. Wearing a lab coat “increased selective attention compared to not wearing a lab coat.” Also, “wearing a lab coat described as a doctor’s coat increased sustained attention compared to wearing a lab coat described as a painter’s coat.”

The conclusion was that “It depends on both the symbolic meaning and the physical experience of wearing the clothes.”

Extending the theory: dress like a high powered business executive, and you will feel and behave like a high powered business executive. Makes sense.

Do you find that what you wear changes how you behave? And do you take people in casual dress less seriously? Discuss!

Here’s the infographic.

Business meeting infographic