In the past five years, researchers have conducted studies exploring the impact clothing has on our perception of others. Style choices, designer labels, accessories and grooming all play a role in how we perceive ability, competence and intelligence.

Whether we like it or not, we are all regularly judged by the way we look.

Looking polished is one’s most valuable physical asset. Yet, over the last 50 years, our cultural dress code has slipped. A brief review of history demonstrates that, as a society, we’ve traveled far from Victorian-style suits and corsets, ultimately settling somewhere between grunge and dotcom casual. Soccer moms seem to live in yoga pants and business professionals today consider khakis and polo shirts the same as a standard suit.

As a clothier, I regularly question the incongruity of the “casual” movement. Does the clothing you wear reflect the image and position you wish to portray? Is “casual” the way we want others to identify our abilities or professionalism? Likely not.

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