Verses: How Does Wearing A Suit To Work Effect Performance?

The Versed Insights uses data to investigate pressing social, cultural, and political happenings in the UK and beyond.

Just one in 10 people wear a suit to work. With offices becoming increasingly informal, it begs the question, would employees be more productive in suits?

For the creatives, the answer is probably going to be, ‘no’. The fear that double cuffs and Windsor Knots may be restricting in search of abstract ideas, combined with the fact that it takes a madman with corporate blood running through his veins who would choose to wear a suit in 30+ degrees heat.

There’s, therefore, no real surprise that in a recent study, seven out of 10 dress casually for work because it makes them feel more ‘comfortable’. Comfortable is the key word here; comfort does not correlate to words such as drive, success, ambition or the like.

When it comes to the Mark Zuckebergs and Richard Bransons of the world, the informal and casual approach looks the smart move, ironic that. However, in a study conducted by the CLICKON Insights team, it found that 40% people who wear a suit to work ‘love’ their job – 11% more than people who do not wear a suit to work.

Data collected by CLICKON Insights team on a 1000 people study.

A likely trend?

What’s more, the study further found that 7.98% of people who do not wear a suit to work ‘hate’ their job, compared to only 2.14% of people who wear a suit; pointing to the fact that the formal workers out there appear happier in their 9-to-5.

In a research project called “the Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing”, the results found that putting on a suit will lead to a ‘greater likelihood of identifying a course of action as well as an enhanced ability to process advantages’.

Such benefits of wearing formal clothing have proven to lead to greater financial reward, as shown by analysis led by Yale University which found that wearing a suit had a direct link to performance. The study used 128 men between the ages of 18 and 32 in a pretend buying and selling task. The results of those who wore suits saw an average profit made of $2.1million, compared to $680,000 for those who were ‘poorly’ dressed.

Abraham Rutchick, professor of psychology at California State Univesity, says putting on a suit sharpens the way we think, thus leading us to perform better, “Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world, In psychological parlance, wearing a suit encourages people to use abstract processing more readily than concrete processing.”

Photo from Flickr

Bonding with colleagues

Naturally, different industry sectors vary in thinking and productivity, and that’s why some advocate for a four-day week with longer hours rather than a traditional five-day week. However, whether you’re as productive as possible in your day job, the majority of your week is spent in the office and bonding with colleagues is just as important for morale and therefore enjoyment at work according to Karen Pine, a psychologist at Hertfordshire University, speaking to the Independent.

“Having a dress-down Friday every day enables workers to be independent, and showcase their personality and attributes by how they dress rather than the position they hold, which leads to stronger bonds between co-workers and removes barriers, enabling everyone to get on with their jobs.”

It therefore feels completely unnecessary for some industry sectors to regularly dress formally, but next time you look at a commuter and feel sorry for them for wearing a suit on the underground, maybe they’re the happiest and most productive person on their way to work.


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