Why You Should Dress to Impress: The ROI of Fashion

neil patel boss

Think it really matters how you dress? If you’re a good person overall, shouldn’t people realize it and not judge you based on your threads?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but people judge you based on the clothes you wear. I don’t care if you’re walking down the street or sitting in a business meeting; people are constantly looking at what you’re wearing.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve dressed like a bum, worn decent clothes, and dressed like a boss. I must admit, there is a huge ROI in wearing nice clothes, especially in the business world.

The Bum Years

When I first started out as an entrepreneur, I didn’t have much money. Whenever I went to networking events, I either wore baggy jeans that looked like I had poop in my pants or slacks and a shirt that typically didn’t match. Most of my threads were from Target.

As you can probably already guess, half of the issue was that I had no sense of style. The other half was that I didn’t want to spend much money.

Whenever I went to meetings or conferences, people wouldn’t really give me the time of day until they got to know me. Once they learned I was somewhat smart, they were willing to listen to me and potentially work with me. The issue was it took people a while to warm up to me because no one wanted to waste his or her time talking to someone who looked like a chump.

After a few years of going through this, I was approached by a friend of mine, who kindly suggested that I spend a bit more money on my wardrobe, pay more than ten bucks for a haircut, and get a decent pair of shoes.

I invested two thousand dollars in making myself over. And boy, did it ever make a difference…

Note: During this phase of my life, my hourly consulting rate was under $100.

My big breakthrough

With my new clothes, a somewhat decent haircut, and a nice pair of black shoes, I made a breakthrough. At first, I noticed that people were more willing to talk to me when I went to conferences. I also noticed that during my business meetings, people took me more seriously.

However, none of those things really mattered because they weren’t big breakthroughs. What was a big breakthrough was that people assumed that I was somewhat well off because I was dressing much better. When I starting talking to potential customers, they naturally assumed that I was successful and my services were costly because I was better dressed.

When it came down to locking in new deals, these potential customers started offering me more money. As I got a taste of money making, I wanted more, so I decided to take things to a new level with my wardrobe.

Note: During this phase of my life, my hourly consulting rate went up to $250.

The Boss Years

From Gucci suits to designer shoes to five-figure watches, I stepped up my appearance as much as I could within my financial constraints. Not only was there a huge ROI, but the difference from this move far superseded the difference I experienced when upgrading myself from a bum to an average business suit wearer.

Once I started dressing to impress, successful business owners started to flock to me when I attended networking events, and people listened when I spoke in business meetings. In addition to that, I was praised for wearing rare watches that other business owners wanted but didn’t have.

This experience taught me that successful people like to hang with other successful people as they tend to feel comfortable around people like themselves. By no means am I saying that all successful people dress nicely, but chances are if someone comes up to you wearing a five-figure watch, he or she has money.

When you start talking about business with these successful people, they know that if they do business with you, it’s going to be costly for the following reasons:

  • You have an expensive lifestyle – if people realize you have money, they know that they are going to have to pay a pretty penny to work with you. They know that if they throw small amounts of cash in front of you, you just won’t care.
  • It has to move your needle – in business, there is saying that if it doesn’t move your needle, it’s not worth doing. So, if the amount someone is willing to offer you isn’t life changing, there is a much greater chance that you won’t accept it. Due to this, business owners will throw much larger amounts at you if they want to work with you.

By dressing like a “boss,” I managed to change other business owners’ opinions of me, and my credibility went through the roof. I was able now to close seven-figure business deals.

Note: During this phase of my life, my hourly consulting rate was above four figures.


Although you should dress to impress because there is an ROI, there are a few caveats that you ought to know.

The first is that if you aren’t clever, dressing to impress won’t work well for you. People will see right through it, and you won’t build any valuable business relationships. So, before you go out and start spending money on clothes and watches, make sure you know what you’re talking about.

The second thing that you need to know is that after you have “made it” and people know you’re successful, it doesn’t matter how you dress. Although I still feel I have a long ways to go in my career, most people see me as being successful. These days, I wear sneakers and cheap t-shirts, and I don’t really sport fancy watches because I want to focus on work. That stuff was never me, and although I used it to get further in my career, I still prefer shopping at Target over Nordstroms.

In the short run, dressing to impress is definitely worth it, but you also have to make sure that it doesn’t go to your head. You can quickly start spending thousands of dollars on clothes, and after a certain point, you won’t notice whether you spend one or five thousand dollars on a suit.

Now that you have heard my story, do you think it’s worth dressing to impress?