Rag & Bone, Fillmore St, SF

Rag & Bone, Fillmore St, SF

Why bother with how you dress?

I understand the sentiment. But have you read the data?

A recent study suggests that for men specifically, clothing almost always influences perceptions of the wearer’s capacity for success.

This particular study is of interest because rather than testing completely different clothing (i.e. casual vs. formal), participants were shown faceless photos of men wearing average off-the-rack suits and photos of the same men wearing suits of the same color & fabric but specifically tailored to their body types.

The men in the tailored suits were rated significantly higher on flexibility, confidence, success and salary.

Impressions were not only formed on the basic fact he was wearing a suit but also on subtle details, such as the fit of a suit.

It’s all in the details. Especially proper fit. Every item in your rotation should fit well. Quality also goes a long way. Look for fine wools, cashmere or 100% cotton. A bit of nylon or elastane added to denim gives it stretch and helps the fabric bounce back after sitting.


What you wear does not only affect how others perceive you but also how you perceive yourself, which has major impact on your performance. Wearing clothing you associate with certain successful qualities actually increases your performance when such qualities are required, reveals a 2013 study published by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.

Researchers asked participants to perform cognitive tests while wearing white “lab coats” – an article of clothing associated with attentiveness when generally polled. Those physically wearing a “lab coat” demonstrated significantly increased attentiveness compared with those not wearing the "lab coat" and with those wearing an identical white “painter’s coat”.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘mind over matter’ but when it comes to clothing the opposite holds true.

Clothing – something so basic – can affect your performance and productivity.

Does this mean you wear a white lab coat over a tailored suit to work everyday? No. For many even a tie is too aggressive for the office. However, you can make style choices that both boost your own productivity and improve your coworkers’ perception of your competence. While still adhering to your office’s dress norm.

In fact, maybe most important when considering what to wear, is the appropriateness of the outfit for the occasion.

It’s best to meet (or slightly exceed) expectations in order to maximize the social reaction to the wearer.

A smartly dressed male marketing researcher posted in a railway station was significantly more well-received by randomly solicited commuters to complete a survey compared with the same male but untidily dressed. Similarly, medical professionals who dressed the part were thought to be more intelligent, experienced and professional by their patients. Negotiators who wore a suit net significantly higher negotiation profit and fewer concessions compared with their casually dressed counterparts.

The response proves more positive if one dresses to meet expectation of the situation at hand. With an edge of course. Give them what they want and success will be yours.



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