Women in Financial Services Blog

Olga Anderson ‘Does what you wear really matter?’ The psychology of dressing well.

Olga Anderson ‘Does what you wear really matter?’ The psychology of dressing well.

Katie.Dix / 27 Jun 2019

In these series of pieces, I have shared with you my thoughts on dressing down – the pros and cons – and then when you’ve decided to dress down, what impact your clothes can have on your performance and how you’re perceived by your colleagues.

In this piece, I want to celebrate dressing well. Forget dress down. Dress up.

In the eyes of society, it is unfortunate to admit that yes, what you wear really does matter. But that doesn't have to be a negative sentiment. Michelle Obama is a great example.

The former First Lady of the United States stood and still stands as a feminist role model, advocate of poverty awareness, education, nutrition and physical activity.  On top of her philanthropy, she very quickly became a fashion icon too.

For eight years, Obama’s clothing became a hotbed for the world’s media. She enjoyed fashion and that was clear from what she wore but she didn’t wear or use fashion frivolously.  She used her clothing to express herself; to adorn herself in every colour and every bold print, giving other women the licence to view clothing as an expression of themselves, and as art.

Her wardrobe became part of her strategy - within presidential administration, clothing had developed a voice of its own and it allowed the world to see the strength and confidence that radiated from this passionate and philanthropic woman.

Now back to you: a wardrobe allows you to wear many hats. It can form a foundation to everything you do and feel, and can affect the way you are seen- from a first interview to how you feel when you step off a stage for the seventh time after delivering a talk to thousands of professionals.

It’s hard to deny the links between our psychology and our physical appearance. Your own personal brand impacts how you carry yourself; your comfort is equally important. But the idea of ‘dressing well’ is broad: some feel bold and brave in a co-ordinated trouser suit, whilst others are at their best in a chiffon floor length dress and a pair of statement shoes.

Judgements in society will be never be eradicated - it is part of human nature. But if we begin to challenge the topic of fashion’s place in business, we may see that broader, more relaxed, exciting or personal decisions taken with clothing, could have strong and positive impacts upon us and our  professions.  

There are times to break the rules, and moments to address the formalities of a dress-code, whether implied, enforced or a construct of society. What you wear can matter, and not matter in equal measure; as much as we applaud Michelle Obama’s style, the point is, it shouldn't matter. Becoming aware of how our clothes impact the way we are perceived and the way we carry ourselves, can benefit our output to the world, and thus, change the dialogue surrounding style and work.

'Olga Anderson' is a bespoke and ready-to-wear womenswear designer. She specialises in clothing designed to empower her clients, and as of 2019, became a ‘Women Appreciating Women’ (WAW) Honorary Award winner. She runs her brand with the belief that “fashion and design should empower women”; working meticulously to encourage and celebrate women’s  individuality, accomplishments and passion, both in and outside of their careers. 



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