In an ideal world, people wouldn’t judge each other on how they looked; instead, they’d focus on how they acted. Sadly, we’re a long way from achieving a world without prejudice, and almost everyone makes subconscious snap-judgments about how smart and efficient people are when they see how they dress.

How to Dress For a Pay Rise

You may think that you’re not guilty of making such judgments, but there’s a good chance that you do it. In your head, imagine what a manager, a secretary, and an engineer look like – I bet you can put together a clear picture.

No matter what that picture is, it’s still a stereotype – if you see someone dressed in a certain way, that stereotype will kick in, and you’ll assume that the person you’re talking to holds a certain job, without even thinking about why you’ve made that assumption.

Turning Stereotypes to Your Advantage

In some industries, it’s perfectly acceptable to turn up to work in floral print shirts and ripped jeans, even top-level executives do it. Some companies in the video games industry like to joke that their dress code is “Please, at least wear some pants”. Just because something is allowed, however, it doesn’t mean that you should do it.

If you have a performance review coming up, consider dressing just slightly above your pay grade. It’s not a good idea to dress better than your manager (or, in an informal company, better than your manager would if he were dressing up to meet a client), but wearing smart silk shirts, a plain tie, and dress shoes will help you to make a good impression on your boss.

If you’re female, dressing smartly poses a few challenges. Make sure that the outfit you pick is not too formal. A flattering skirt with a modest length is a good option. Well tailored silk shirts look good on women too.

You could consider pairing them up with plain silk gloves for an extra formal touch, but don’t go too overboard on accessories – you want to look like you’re planning a productive day at the office, not heading out for an evening meal at a posh restaurant.

Feng Shui for Success

Even if you don’t believe in the idea behind Feng Shui, some of its principles do seem to work well. Feng Shui practitioners believe that wearing a small amount of red can help you to achieve success in salary negotiations. If you’re male, consider wearing a red tie.

If you’re female, consider adding a red accessory. Don’t go overboard and don a red shirt or blazer that would probably be incredibly unflattering. A small amount of red, however, suggests power and confidence and can help you achieve success in your negotiations.

Be Confident

Perhaps the most important thing when it comes to salary negotiations and performance reviews is to be confident going into them. If you’re really uncomfortable wearing a suit, don’t make your performance review be the first time you’ve worn one since your job interview; you’ll look like you’re desperate or trying too hard.

Wear clothing that is clean, smart, and fits you well, and focus on going into the interview or negotiation feeling confident and well prepared.