This is an interesting question as I’ve heard persuasive arguments for both options. Which would you rather be? Underdressed or Overdressed?
Jill Chivers of 16 Style Types and I discuss this topic in this video.
The Underdressed to Overdressed Continuum and Personality Type
This isn’t a black and white question, as really the overdressed to underdressed question is more about where you sit on the continuum and what you even perceive what is overdressed versus what is underdressed too.
Jill thinks that with regards to psychological type, it’s the last letter of your four letter Myers Briggs type code that will give you the answer – to whether you prefer under or overdressedness (is that even a word or did I just make it up?). For her the last letter – either J (judging) or P (perceiving) is what informs which you are likely to prefer.
She thinks that Judging types are more likely to prefer to be overdressed as there is a sense of order, structure and boundaries into which style goes, in fact, an ESTJ woman told us that if she went to an event where she was underdressed, she’d want to leave straight away. While some Perceiving types mentioned to us when we were interviewing them about their style, it was something they’d never even think about, and probably wouldn’t notice or I’d think it was funny or quirky (but wouldn’t ever think they’d need to leave the event).
While I’ve noticed in my dealings with FP types (Feeling/Perceiving types – particularly Intuitive versions xNFPs but also Sensing versions xSFPs) who place a high value on style would also prefer to be overdressed than underdressed, as FP types are hugely motivated by their personal values. I’ve also met STJ types (Sensing, Thinking, Judging) types who dislike standing out, and so would prefer to be slightly underdressed so they don’t stand out (as overdressed can make them feel like they stand out) as standing out can be perceived as a negative to them.
I would think that xNTPs are more likely to feel more comfortable underdressed than overdressed, while xNTJs are more likely to be overdressed than underdressed (provided that they have come to realise the power of their personal style and how it communicates).
What Does Underdressed and Overdressed Really Mean?
They are terms that are all about relationship to others. How can you tell is by looking at others to see what others are wearing.
How do you be overdressed but not out of step with those around you? Jill doesn’t want to be separated by her natural inclination to be overdressed in a bad way, she wants to be in-step with others, but still express her most stylish self. Being out of step is a very negative feeling for Jill as she highly values relationships and harmony with others (a hallmark of the ESFJ personality type).
For me, some may think that I overdress every day for working at home by myself – so there is no one else I’m needing to relate to in my environment so can’t use that as a gauge, yet for me I don’t feel overdressed as I want to feel like the best version of me as I know that I perform better when I feel good about myself, Feeling stylish is one aspect of feeling good, so that small amount of daily time and effort to put on an outfit that is relatively stylish is worth it to me. As a J (Judging) type (INTJ) I like to be prepared and so being put-together each day means if an unexpected meeting does occur, I’m never in a panic about having to change my outfit or that I’m not appropriately dressed.
What’s Your Preference?
We’d love to know how you feel about this question – please do let us know in the comments – and if you know your psychological type too, we’d love to know what that is and why. How far from the appropriate/ideal would you rather be – more overdressed or more underdressed?
Discover More About Your Style Type
If you’re interested to learn more about why you have these preferences and how they relate to your personality then we’d love to invite you to discover more with our Your Type of Style program which delves deep into your approach to style that is related to your psychological type. We only open the doors once a year so if this is of interest to you discover more here. Learn how you can tune into what is right for you and tune out the style information that is not right for you.