How can what you wear win or lose the game of persuasive communication?

Formal clothingWe all face high-stakes, high-pressure engagements where we need to look great. And we all face the closet, sometimes in anguish, over how exactly to accomplish that.

The good news? There's new science about how your clothes and accessories really do matter–and give you an advantage, if you choose to wear it:

1. First, always dress just a bit better than your audience. If they're casual, you're business casual. If they're business casual, you're executive professional. Your audience, large or small, needs to see you as a leader. So take the lead–and the trouble–and dress to impress. A special note about suits–research shows formal business attire actually increases your ability to negotiate, think big, and articulate abstract, creative ideas. Science validates the term "power suit." It empowers the person who wears it.

2. Next, make sure your wardrobe choice is appropriate to your audience. If you're pitching a group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists that dresses in jeans and t-shirts, a suit is a bit much. Trade it in for a sport valtrex over the counter coat, guys. Ladies, try slacks and a blazer. The key is to make a wardrobe choice that amplifies you, the presenter–not one that alienates your audience.

3. Finally, personalize a bit with a memorable wardrobe accent. This is more difficult to pull off at the beginning of your career, but as you grow in experience, signaling your gravitas through wardrobe is a significant nonverbal power play. Researchers call this the "red sneaker effect." Red sneakers with academic attire, a bowtie with a suit, a bold pocket-handkerchief–these are ways men can signal extra confidence and passion through wardrobe. For women, the options are even greater. A statement piece of jewelry, a bold color shoe, or a memorable scarf paired with otherwise conservative attire–any of these can maximize sartorial advantage. Just be careful not to overdo it. If you're on the fence about a specific choice, go with the more conservative option.

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