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Power Dressing: The silent confidence booster for 2023

According to Business Insider, the year 2023 may see an increase in employees returning to the office. Reasoning thereof may vary, either due to personal choice, company policy, or external factors including the threats and challenges faced as a result of high stages of load shedding, or the devastating economic challenges of South Africa. With this realisation in mind, employees who have gotten used to the comfort of working from home may be confronted with a new obstacle – how do I increase my self-confidence for going back to the office?

To provide guidance in answering such a question, a term coined in the 1970s, namely that of “Power Dressing”, comes to mind. The term is interpreted and understood as dressing in a way that makes the individual wearer feel more empowered, powerful and confident. Power dressing has long been a technique / manner in which one can increase one’s self-confidence, and the feeling of authority and empowerment within one’s personal life and the working world (Metro, 2022; The HR Digest, 2017).

According to Human Resources Today, no magic formula is available to indicate what clothing is considered “empowering”. As such, it is important to note that what is considered power dressing differs from individual to individual, based on our differences in beliefs and tastes as well as our personalities. Evidently, each individual needs to understand and choose clothing that makes them feel comfortable, confident, and strong-minded. When you wear clothing that you are comfortable and confident in, it directly impacts your approach and behaviour. This in turn, automatically reflects increased confidence and assurance to others (Metro, 2022; The HR Digest, 2017).  According to The HR Digest and Human Resources Today, power dressing may have various impacts / benefits aside from boosting self-confidence and the feeling of empowerment, including:

  • Breaking stereotypes of individuals;
  • Enhancing an individual’s performance;
  • Obtaining respect from others;
  • Looking and feeling good;
  • Reflecting and building self-image; and
  • Positively increasing representation of the company.

A key consideration relating to power dressing includes the power and impact of first impressions. Humans are, involuntarily, driven by the sub-conscious mind to notice details that the conscious mind is not aware of. Such details may include the first impressions we form of others based on how they present themselves, which may include the clothing they wear. Consequently, ensuring confidence in yourself, be that through the clothing you wear, may positively impact other people’s first impressions of yourself.  This may also influence the type and quality of connections and relationships that you build (The HR Digest, 2017).

Keeping power dressing in mind, it is, however, also important to note that your dress code and attire should always be deemed appropriate for the workplace and the specific environment in which you find yourself.  In addition, your dress code should always display a positive and professional image of the organisation you work for. Consequently, keeping dress code in mind whilst referring to power dressing, it is of extreme importance to be cognisant and aware of your company dress code policy (should you have one) and ensure alignment with such code. Organisational dress code policies are important to ensure that a professional and unified image is portrayed to clients and customers. According to Indeed, having a dress code policy can provide the following high-level benefits:

  • Ensuring fair treatment to all employees;
  • Presenting a professional company image;
  • Promoting productivity;
  • Eliminating miscommunication and subjectivity;
  • Adhering to relevant safety protocols and standards; and
  • Ensuring employees are easily recognisable.

Considering the above information, power dressing may be used as a silent tool for increasing confidence levels at work and ultimately being more productive and successful. Organisational dress codes should however still be maintained and complied with, to ensure understanding and alignment between employer and employee. At Joubert & Associates, we pride ourselves on providing expert knowledge and skills to our clients in developing and maintaining relevant and appropriate company policies, including dress code policies. For further information on Joubert and Associates’ service offerings, please refer to our website at


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