You roll out of bed in the morning and stare into your closet. A voice calls from the back of the rack. “Pick me!” You reach in and pull out that blue shirt you bought on sale at the mall in 2012. It’s not all that comfortable, but it meets the minimum workplace requirement for whatever’s considered “professional.”
As you sit at your desk with that collar digging into your neck, you think about how you wish you could be at home in a T-shirt and sweatpants. And while that old blue shirt isn’t making you all that happy, it’s also sending signals to your coworkers and everyone you pass on the street. Our wardrobe may not seem important, but it has a huge impact on how we feel and how the world perceives us.
How does our dress affect us? Formal clothes make us think of ourselves as competent and rational. And dressing better than those around us makes us think more abstractly, so you can focus on the big picture. That’s good, right? Not entirely. That tie around your neck may be choking off your relationships with your team.
According to a 2015 study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, dressing up for work triggers “psychological formality and social distance, whereas casual clothing is related to intimacy and familiarity.” The researchers found that being around people in fancy clothes made others alter their vocabulary. They were more polite. While politeness is nice in some settings, it also creates a social barrier that could interfere with open, honest teamwork. That’s where comfort is key.
If you want to look professional (triggering big picture thinking) while remaining comfortable (opening your social bonds), you need to find just the right piece of clothing, and it’s probably not hanging in your closet just yet. A retailer called Betabrand is taking a creative new approach to fashion, generating clothes that look as good as formal wear while giving you the comfort you’d expect from your Saturday morning sweats. And the best part is that everything is crowdfunded: You decide the future of fashion.
Imagine dress pants that are also yoga pants. Done. A blouse that gives you the stretchable comfort of Spandex. Check. How about a women’s blazer that might as well feel like a hoodie? Got it.
For men, you’ve got your dress pants that are actually secret sweatpants. To cover your top half, pick up the ultimate office shirt, which is soft, sharp, and can even wick up that sweat you’re cranking out during an important meeting. And then there’s something called a hoodigan, which looks crazy comfortable, intensely stylish, and futuristic all at once. (If you’re in a super-hurry each morning, we recommend the suitsy, a business suit onesie. It’s 2017. Why isn’t every outfit a onesie?)
When you vote for aspiring designs you’d want to see in your closet, you’ll get a discount on the eventual purchase when they get produced. It’s like Kickstarter became a cool wizard tailor who creates new fashions out of thin air and displays them on the intertubes. (And yes, you can submit designs, too.)
So take some effort and dress the part. You get the job done quicker!