Giving outward signs that hint towards your professional competence has always been something recommended to people, whether it is in networking situations, for job interviews, or when meeting with clients. While wearing a suit doesn’t actually make you any more capable or intelligent, it has been generally accepted as something that enhances a person’s professional image.
Of course, the business world has become a lot more casual over the past couple of decades, and depending on what industry you are in, formal business attire might never be expected, even for interviews. When you work in a sector or attend an event where business attire isn’t the norm, you can stick out like a sore thumb by dressing that way, and while some people still choose to just to make an impact, the effect is different, and they can just end up feeling overdressed or like they don’t fit in with the cool, laid back looking people surrounding them.
This doesn’t mean that people don’t want to put a few cues in their attire that show them in a good light in terms of what they do professionally. Here are some of the new ways people ‘dress to impress’ in a low key style when business attire isn’t the order of the day:
Some people like to wear accessories that make a certain impression. This can mean anything from choosing fashionable glasses that have been shown to make people be perceived as more studious, through to more on the nose things like Harvard class rings that show someone’s prestigious educational background. Choosing other accessories like charm bracelets that, on close inspection might reveal some of the places a person has travelled to or what their hobbies are is also a popular way to make certain impressions using attire.
Shirts and Sweaters
Another way people try to communicate things about themselves through their clothing in work situations is to wear shirts or sweaters that literally say what they want to convey. Wearing a jacket or shirt from your university, or having a shirt from a certain conference you attended can be the most obvious ways to do this, but you may also see people wearing ‘geeky’ clothing in tech environments with math or code related jokes on them that don’t mean much to the uninitiated, but show others from the same technical background that the wearer understands the joke and therefore the world it comes from. There is nothing new in this, people have been wearing shirts for decades that show what kind of music they like or which sports teams they support, but now it is becoming a subtle way to make professional statements when casual attire is worn.
Whether or not you use any of these ways to show people things about yourself at conferences or networking events or not is up to you, but it is interesting to see people using these dressed down methods of impressing through their attire.