Introducing “The Psychology of What We Wear to Work”

A special section dedicated to how our workwear affects our creativity, productivity, and mental well-being.

Image by Joamir Salcedo

What did you wear to work today? Did you feel good in it? Even more important, did you feel like you in it? These might seem like trivial questions, but they’re not.

What we wear has a real impact on how we feel about ourselves. And that, in turn, influences our work – our confidence, creativity, ability to focus and collaborate.

That’s why I’m so excited to announce the launch of our new section “The Psychology of What We Wear to Work.” Here we’ll look at how what we wear affects how we work, how we feel about our jobs, and how we feel about ourselves.

We bring our whole selves to work. But whether we’re able to access all of our talents, skills, creativity, wisdom and intuition depends on many factors, including how comfortable and confident we’ll feel about what we’re wearing. The workplace is changing. And more and more workplaces are realizing the value of allowing employees to express themselves through what they wear.

It’s a time of transition. And to kick off the section, and to see where we stand, Thrive Global and The Business of Fashion, the essential daily resource for fashion insiders, conducted a survey of 2,700 professionals about how their workwear affects their psychology.

What did we find?

• Of those respondents who say they don’t feel happy and fulfilled at work, 55 percent said the way they dress at work doesn’t represent them.

• Of those who say their attire has positively affected their career, 66 percent said what they wear to work represents their true personality.

• Over eighty percent say the dress code in their office or industry has loosened up over the years.

And 49% of women have felt self-conscious about repeating outfits at work. That’s been the subject of our #Repeats campaign at Thrive Global — celebrating and owning the idea of repeats is a great way to begin to close the style gap, affording women the same freedom (in the form of time and money and thought) that men have in putting together their outfits for the day.

And in addition to the full results of the survey, you’ll find personal stories, videos, and advice and tips from fashion experts on how to dress for work and how to feel more confident, creative and fulfilled.

Some of those include:

JVN and DVF in a Thrive original video
Diane von Furstenberg created the iconic workwear item for women: the wrap dress. Jonathan Van Ness is changing the way people think about expressing themselves as the breakout star of Queer Eye. In a Thrive Global video, the two meet for the first time and interview each other about the psychology of workwear, their style revelations over time, and (yes) the true impetus for JVF’s decision to pair a beard with heels.

Can the Clothes You Wear to Work Make You Happier on the Job? 
A story in partnership with The Business of Fashion (BoF), exploring the results of our joint survey.

How to Dress for Work When Going Through a Difficult Time
A piece by fashion psychologist Dawnn Karen, a therapist and instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, about the psychology of dressing for work when you have something major going on in your personal life.

I’ve Dressed for Work as a Man and as a Woman. Here’s What I’ve Learned
Thrive senior software engineer Autumn Trafficante wrote about what it feels like to dress for work as a man — and then, as a woman (she has had experience with both.)

Rethinking Your Work Style After Maternity Leave
A Q&A with author Lauren Smith Brody about dressing for work (and grappling with your new identity) as a new mom back from maternity leave.

How Power Dressing Moved Beyond the High Heel
Ann Shoket, the former EIC of Seventeen and author of The Big Life, on how she said goodbye to her power shoes in favor of a new kind of personal power (she gave up her sky high, editorial powerhouse Manolos when she launched her own venture).

5 People Who Wear a Uniform to Work Share How It Makes Them Feel
A powerful roundup of personal vignettes from people required to wear specific uniforms to work about how their uniforms make them feel and affect their work.

And Thrive’s 5 Fashion Tips to Get Out the Door 20 Minutes Faster

We also want to hear from you! Has the dress code changed at your workplace? What do you wear to work? Do you feel comfortable and confident in what you wear to work? What changes have you made in what you wear to work and how has that changed your job performance? Add your voice to the conversation by tagging your stories with #ThriveStyle — and let us know how you Thrive in style.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

power of clothing

The Power of Clothes: How They Affect the Mind

by Adrian Nita
What We Wear to Work//

Introducing Thrive Style: The New Power Dressing

by Arianna Huffington
What We Wear to Work//

7 Lessons from Jonathan Van Ness and DVF About Life, Confidence and Fashion

by Nora Battelle
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.