There’s always that one person at work or a meeting that stands out from the crowd. It’s not necessarily what he’s saying. It’s more what he’s wearing. Or maybe not wearing.
For example, say there’s a group of men all wearing long ties. However, there’s one who decides to wear a bow tie, or (gasp!) not wear a tie at all (that would be me). What is your opinion of this nonconformist? High? Low?
“We proposed that, under certain conditions, nonconforming behaviors can be more beneficial to someone than simply trying to fit in,” wrote study authors Silvia Bellezza, Francesca Gino, and Anat Keinan. “In other words, when it looks deliberate, a person can appear to have a higher status and sense of competency.”
Five lab and field studies were conducted across different populations. One study, for example, had students rank the professional status of a professor employed at local collage or a top-tier university and was either clean-shaven and in a suit or had a beard and wore a t-shirt. The students attributed more status and competence to the unshaven professor at the top-tier university. In another experiment, luxury shop employees thought a woman dressed in gym clothes was more of a celebrity or had a lot of money when compared to another woman dressed in a fur coat.
Take that woman in the fur coat, though, and put her in a shop that isn’t luxurious. Then she’ll be perceived as having a higher status. The point is, you have to know your audience and your environment. (For the record, I don’t like wearing ties because I find them suffocating.)
Do you tailor your dress style for certain situations? How so? Please contribute to the conversation in the comments.