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What to Wear to Make You Look More Approachable

Dale Carnegie’s self-help book How to Win Friends & Influence People remains an all-time bestseller since it was first published in 1937. Why? Because humans are social beings. We have a natural desire to connect, be welcomed and be accepted at social gatherings or the office.

But you don’t always have to take the initiative. You can encourage others to make the first move with a simple smile, more open body language, or just the way you dress. Here are six clothing suggestions that can make people feel more comfortable around you:

1. Wear Pastels

Keep everything soft and gentle, from your voice and gestures to the colors, fabrics and silhouettes of your outfit. Light colors make the wearer appear more friendly and approachable, while dark colors are perceived as more formal, dominant and authoritative. High contrasts such as black and white also create a more powerful image. Some bright colors express energy and confidence, while muted colors look more reliable and less threatening. In short, try blues, greens and warm earth tones such as light yellow and beige. Avoid red which can make you look aggressive.

2. Wear Soft Fabrics

A soft cardigan is more preferred than a biker jacket because it looks cuddly and less closed-off. Choose wool, cashmere and chiffon over leather, suede, velvet and satin if you want to look more amiable and less intimidating.

3. Wear Rounded Necklines

In the same vein as wearing soft fabrics, wear softer and less structured silhouettes. You can choose a rounded neckline instead of a stiff collar, an open placket instead of a zipper, or a curved or waterfall hem instead of a stepped hem.

4. Keep Yourself Neat and Tidy

An unhygienic or disheveled appearance can be regarded as socially undesirable. If you want to show that you’re disciplined, mature and stable, keep your body well-groomed and your clothes clean and stylish.

5. Dress Appropriately

Dress according to your social status and the occasion – do not overdress or underdress. Being overdressed can drive some folks away and make you seem uptight. People tend to be more at ease around those having a similar social status as their own.

6. Wear a Conversation Piece

Pets, music and hobbies are some handy conversation starters for a complete stranger. Make it easier for others to strike up a chat by wearing something interesting that reveals who you are. It can be keepsake jewelry, a customized phone case, a slogan or cartoon tee, or something from a foreign country you’ve visited. It can even be a tattoo!

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