Did dressing more formally for work make me happier?

Originally, I decided to try dressing up for work because I wanted to get more use out of my closet. I have a large collection of dresses (over 60) and blazers obtained over the years living on the East Coast, going to business school, and working at places like McKinsey. When I moved back to Seattle last June and went back to working at a tech company, I very quickly started wearing the jeans plus a t shirt or sweater uniform. I realized that I had so many pieces of clothing that I love that I wasn’t wearing and instead was rotating through the same few outfits.

My giant collection of dresses, as seen by the number of hangers.

I definitely accomplished my goal of wearing more of my clothes, including many dresses that I genuinely missed wearing. It also turns out that “dressing for success” is real. Wearing my formal clothes made me feel more confident and put together. It put me in a “working” mindset which led to much more focus and productivity. I spoke up more often in meetings, even when they were conference calls. When I worked from home, I still made an effort to dress up, and it really did make a difference in how I worked.

Another benefit I didn’t expect was that changing out of my formal clothes when I got home into something comfier helped me wind down at the end of the day. It helped create a distinct change from the work day so I could relax rather than continually checking my work email when I was trying to enjoy dinner or read a book.

Did dressing more formally for work make me happier? Absolutely. I love wearing and getting use out of all the great clothes I already own, and more importantly, I love how dressing differently for work and home makes me feel. I will definitely continue to do this.

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