I had a teacher back in school who would always give us the same advice when it came to progressing in our work life. "Always dress for the level above where you are" If your co-workers come in Kahkis and Polo shirts, come dressed in dress shirts and slacks. The idea was if you show outside that you want to move up, then management would notice and move you up.
To be honest as much as I can see his point, I have never been fond of the thought process with that. Just because you look the part doesn't mean you are qualified to do that job, but I diagress.
I was also listening to an audiobook recently that said, "decide what you want to be, and say you are already it and live like you already are, live into the lie and it will become truth". Now this I think can apply to the above statement due to the same process is involved, "if you want to be management, act like management." I also find that by changing your outward appearence you can change your inner view as well, I have recently started dressing to a bit better then I used to, I have switched from wearing primarily Polo shirts to more button down dress shirts and flannels. I have found that my attitude towards my own progress has improved.
So I am curious as to other peoples opinion, can the clothes make the man? Does our outward appearence reflect back onto our inner selves?
I can't believe I'm taking this view, but: what you wear communicates something. You picked this set of clothes over another because it said what you wanted to say, whether to you or someone else.
Wearing an earring says, "I'm at least a little bit counterculture."
Wearing a dress shirt in a biz environment says, "I'm here to do what's expected."
Wearing flip-flops says, "I like to relax."
Obviously if there's a dress code, or your foot's hurt and you can't wear dress shoes, etc., things may vary.
As a professor, I wear jeans or khakis and polos or button-down, long or short sleeved, which more or less means in that environment, "I'm here to do what's expected." I used to dress better, but in slightly unusual ways, which said, "There's a little more to me than meets the eye." If I'd worn shorts, tank top, and thong sandals, I think it would have said, "I'd rather be at the beach."
But that's not to say dress clothes of the standard ilk are always best in white-collar environments. YMMV, I believe.
Before you open your mouth, before you move, you are assessed. It is natural it is how we handle the world. So before anything else happens you are what you present.
The Clothes mark the Man.
But there is also a feedback loop. When you put on clothes that mark what you think of as successful, powerful, relaxing, sexy, etc, you get reinforcing feedback that you are those things.
So the Cloths Make the Man.
Fake it till you make it. You are what you do. Use whatever quote you want, but there is a truth to these statements. You can train your brain as well as mark how you wish to be viewed and received with clothing choices.
At one point in my life I was not fond of that thought process, now I access this truth for self improvement and to live a better enjoyed life.
That is the way I am now, I don't like to believe that so much emphises is put on outward appearence. We are told as kids not to "Judge a book by its cover" but our day to day lives can change so quickly by exactly that.
I am finding lately though that I am growing more accepting of that reality.
Even my favorite fictional character Repairman Jack uses his appearence to suit his needs, he purposely dresses to blend in with a crowd.
The man makes the clothes. There is a crazy bum that sits at a corner on my way home that is always dressed rather well(while the clothes are dirty and getting worn, he has a nice suit and so forth). Deal is, he is still a crazy bum(he doesn't really beg, he just walks up and down screaming to himself).
Mark Cuban dresses like a complete slob and I would have him invest with me and take advice from him far before I would Donald Trump.
The statement, dress for who you want to be and the lie will fulfill, I also don't believe. I am working my ass off to be the man I want to be, and the clothes will then follow.
Well as I put it before you open your mouth and at the first assessment it is about the image you put out.
I figure you set the level you wish to be at by your clothes and then climb or fall by your actions.
But it is still ultimately your actions and who you are that define you. Sure, first impressions are vital and I said nothing about first impressions.
If you are an idiot, asshole, incompetent, uneducated, etc, the clothes will not change that. The answers to his questions as asked are no. The clothes make an outward persona, they can even fulfill what is inside, but they do not make what is inside or make the man
As I said you will climb or fall by your actions.
As to the psychological effects of dressing well affecting the person, there are multiple examples of this being the case.
In as much as others perspectives of you are managed, molded, or steered because of them.
Show up naked, then compare. You are the same guy. Your character, sense of humor, business acumen, wit and charm are all still the same. In the sauna, you're all basically naked and it doesn't matter. On a sales call or in the conference room, it matters a lot.
Mostly, we dress for others - apart from shielding us from the elements or job conditions. Our attitude and the way we project ourselves is altered by our wardrobe because of how we perceive others will perceive us. Its just how it is. There are days when I perform better when I dress better. It sets my attitude. Other days I get the job done just as well working from home in my boxers.
When I was younger, I liked to think that how I dressed didn't matter. As long as I was qualified for the job, people should judge me on my merit, not my dress. As I have grown older though, I have realized that just isn't the way things work. You could be the best there is at what you do, but if you look like a slob, it hurts your credibility. The same goes for someone who is mediocre. If they dress well, they will be respected a bit more for it. That's just the way the world works and you can fight against it if you will, but the train will leave the station without you.
Also, if I look at it from a military perspective, your uniform says a lot about how much you take pride in yourself and the uniform. Someone with a uniform that is wrinkled, has strings all over it, dirty boots, and a messy haircut, isn't taking pride in themselves and their superiors aren't going to take them as seriously.