Every college student has been there — waking up at 8:55 a.m. for a 9 a.m. class, throwing on sweats and a baggy T-shirt and walking out the door. Clothing says a lot about a person, and unfortunately for those who take comfort to the extreme, sweatshirts and moccasins usually won’t impress post-graduation.

Knowing how to dress well can give a person the confidence to walk into an interview and land the job they’d been hoping for. There’s no need to be a fashion expert or to break the bank in order to look professional walking into a job interview. For those who enjoy comfort, look to the likes of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. One thing these men aren’t known for is their style. Men like them can wear ill-fitting sweaters and jeans every day because they’ve achieved their goals and are no longer trying to advance their careers.

In the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology featured in The New York Times, scientists studied a phenomenon known as “enclothed cognition.” This phenomenon studies the ways clothing can affect people’s behavior and cognitive function. According to some of the studiy, women who dress in a masculine fashion during a job interview are more likely to get the job, and teaching assistants who wear formal clothing are seen as more intelligent than those who don’t dress up. Although these experiments aren’t totally conclusive and don’t tell us why clothing affects our behavior, it does show a valid point: dressing for the job you want could be the answer to getting hired or promoted.

Dressing for the job you want doesn’t necessarily mean dull pant-suits and ugly kitten heels every day. As new business and work-from-home jobs are created, the possibilities for work fashion have become endless. Some jobs require a suit, others jeans and a T-shirt, but every job requires some element of style in the employee’s clothing.

Most corporate jobs will require a more professional style, but there are ways to make the somewhat boring traditional look pop.

For men, the best work investment possible is a few nicely fitted suits. These suits don’t have to be Armani or cost $1,000, but they do have to fit correctly. A relatively inexpensive suit can be made to look so much more professional if it’s fitted by a tailor. Dress a suit up with a nice tie, belt and watch (if you’re a watch kind of guy) and voilà: instant professional.

Nowadays, women have much more leeway in dressing for work. In the past, women were expected to dress more masculine in shoulderpads and slacks, but now a lot more women have a wide array of clothes to choose from. Bright colors, shiny jewelry and stilettos are slowly being accepted into the corporate workday.

Dressing for the job you want works. It’s undeniable that when someone looks good, they feel good and can gain the confidence to achieve their goals.

Email Tess Acierno at opinions@cardinalpointsonline.com

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