beauty

Wearing this clothing item is your ticket to being successful. Apparently.

 Image via The Devil Wears Prada.

Washed your hair, ironed your smartest dress and even polished your heels (well done you) to prepare for that important meeting?

You might want to hang your A-line dress back in your wardrobe. A study has found that if you really want to dress to impress, you might want to consider dressing down rather than up.

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Yes, despite all the time we’ve spent believing that a crisp white shirt, black pants and heels are the way to nab the corner office, new research suggests that yoga pants and sneakers could actually be the winning ticket.

The study conducted by Harvard Business School found that in certain situations dressing like you don’t really care can work to your advantage. (Post continues after gallery.)

*Runs to grab old hole-y hoodie*

The team behind the study explained that dressing down made others believe that you’re powerful.

Wealthy individuals signal their position by giving up financial resources to purchase expensive luxury items. Similarly, by giving up the social benefits conferred by conformity, individuals show that they do not need these benefits because they already possess high status.”

When Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg addressed well-to-do bankers before his company went public, he dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, and it got people talking. But he was onto something. By dressing differently – normally even – he gave himself an aura of power.

Zuckerberg is a fan of dressing down. Image via Getty,

He gave off the idea that he was above society's sartorial rules and it was exactly that that demanded respect and lent him credibility.

While it's certainly good news for those of us who spend most of our leisure time in workout clothes (regardless of whether we actually plan to do any exercise or not) it's not a deal sealer for all situations unfortunately.

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Nor is it a justification to wear that 20 year old jumper with a peculiar stain, no matter how much you love it. Sorry.

Being hungry makes you shop
Not flashing the cash can be more powerful than doing so. Image via Clueless.

So by not conforming (read: flashing the cash with expensive clothes and accessories that society expects you to do if you're successful - or trying to be), you give the impression you don't need to conform because you're already there. You're above it.

It's a theory that's been fairly well documented too - a journalist put the theory to the test by visiting a luxury department store twice - once in a tracksuit and trainers, and once in designer clothes, heels and a professional blow-dry. She got better service in her trackies.

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Before you start throwing away your finest, be warned there is a limit to this theory - dressing down is only seen as a symbol of status and power amongst the kind of people where it's not the norm. So while attending client meetings or visiting in luxury stores in your yoga pants might get you special treatment, doing your food shopping in trackies will not. In fact, everyone you pass will probably be wearing them too.

The same goes for that important job interview: unfortunately it's more likely they'll just take it that you couldn't be bothered making a serious effort and give you weird looks for wasting their time.

But before you write it off completely, there is an important lesson about the value of not conforming and dressing like yourself.

Adding one unique or surprising element whether it's a pair of red sneakers, a bright lipstick, a cool jacket or an interesting hairstyle will have a similar effect on a smaller scale.

As the report concludes: "Marching to the beat of a different drummer can have some surprising upsides."

You had us at "trackies".

How often do you wear casual clothing in important situations?

Would you wear yoga pants to work? 

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