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By: Leila Ugincius, VCU News

Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have found that “dress for success” is indeed sage advice when it comes to workplace perception.

Work colleagues judge you — at least your competence and warmth — by how you dress, Jose Cortina, Ph.D., a professor of management and entrepreneurship in VCU’s School of Business, writes in “What Should I Wear to Work? An Integrative Review of the Impact of Clothing in the Workplace,” in a recent edition of the Journal of Applied Psychology. That, in turn, influences their evaluation of your performance and their willingness to help you.

Cortina and his team – including Yingyi Chang, Ph.D., who received a doctorate from the VCU Business School in May – identified three universal and distinctive clothing characteristics at work: formality, provocativeness and fashionability. They also looked at uniforms and religiosity of clothing, which are tied to particular social groups.

“You can influence the behavior of others toward you by making certain clothing choices,” Cortina said. “But it differs for male and female wearers. For example, women in provocative clothing, such as clothing that is skin-revealing or body-contour-showing, are seen as less competent. It isn’t clear that this is true for men.”

Our reactions to how others dress are, to some degree, automatic.

“As an observer, one must remember that people in formal clothing aren’t more competent, and people in fashionable clothing aren’t warmer — but we are inclined to think that they are,” Cortina said.

Continue Reading on the VCU News Website

Read Dr. Cortina’s Research Article

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