Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dress for Success

There were times when I worked as an employee that I wore my “power suit,” a red blazer with black pants or skirt and a white blouse. My friends knew that when I put on my power suit you had better watch out! I usually only wore it when I needed to confront my boss or a board member about some injustice in the workplace. They say that “clothes can make the man,” and I think that is even truer of women. We often put on clothing to make us feel good, fit in, and change the way we feel.

An interesting story came across my computer a few weeks ago about barn swallows. It seems that a team of researchers found that by artificially coloring the breast feathers of male barn swallows the testosterone levels of the birds increased. Now the barn swallows didn’t have mirrors to tell them that their feathers were colored. They depended on other birds reactions to them. It seems that the female birds are more attracted to male barn swallows with darker feathers (because they have more testosterone). The interest of the female birds made the male birds “feel” better and their biology changed because of it! Don’t you wonder what those male birds were thinking about themselves with so much attention? It makes me think of my oldest brother standing in front of mirror as a teenager telling himself “I’m cool!”

As I sat thinking about the barn swallows and my power suit, I wondered how the way we dress, and the way we talk to ourselves, effects the way we feel. It may be a stretch to compare ourselves to the barn swallow, but I think there is a lesson in the story! In a book by Virginia Richmond, Nonverbal Behavior in Interpersonal Relations, Richmond states, "The way we dress communicates a great deal of information about us, who we are, our relationship to others, our values, attitudes, preferences, goals and aspirations." So what do your clothes say about you? And what do you say about yourself? Sometimes change has to occur from the outside in. Dressing for success isn’t just a catch phrase…it may be true!

No comments: