What a person wears must not be assumed to be a mere habit.Psychological research has indicated that what a person wears createsthe first impression, which that person makes. When a person wearsdifferently, he or she changes the impression that people have.Passerby will be able to determine the level of income, ambitions,social class, and personality, level of confidence, as well as howsuccessful an individual is based on how they are dressed. Theimpression created by the dressing goes beyond mere cloth cover, andcreates impressions of inner personalities and way of life of anindividual. Whereas the impressions created by way of dressing may beunfounded, researchers have stated that this trend starts at earlyages. For instance, teachers can judge the level of understanding ofa learner based what the learner is wearing 1. The cost ofclothing speaks volumes to passerby. Expensive clothing such asdesigner suits will create the impression of a high earner. However,cheap clothes will create the impression of an unemployed person or aless confident person. The following paper expounds on the variousways that a person can be judged based on what he or she is wearing.
Clothing determines gender.
Although this seems obvious, it is evident that what a personwears determines the gender. The design of shoes that a person wearswill determine the gender of the person without looking at the faceor any other part of the body2.
For instance, high hilled shoes are widely known to be worn byfemales. On the hand, caps, trousers, jackets and shirts have longbeen known to be worn by males. By looking at a person for a firstinstance, it is clear that one can be able to tell the gender of theperson without having to look at the face. The issue of genderidentity has become increasingly important due to the advent ofdifferent dressing styles by both males and females. For instance,women have adopted the wearing of trousers, caps and men’s shoesover time. This is was a taboo in yester years, where some clotheswere earmarked for males or females3. It is also clearthat some males have adopted female garments. For instance, gays havebeen wearing females’ clothes such as high hilled shoes anddresses.
Clothes determine social class and economic status
The choice of a wardrobe determines how people perceive you withregard to your social and economic status. Smartly dressed people areperceived to come from a high social class as opposed to poorlydressed people. Smartly dressed people such as men in designer suitsare believed to be working in the mainstream sector such as thebanking industry. On the contrary, a man who wears an off-the-pegstreet suit will likely be perceived as emanating from low classsociety. Research has also backed up evidence that well-dressedpeople are perceived as being successful and high earners4.Expensive clothes tend to send the message that the wearer is highearner. Expensive clothes will indicate that the wearer has anexcessive spending habit, which in turn implies that the wearer comefrom a high social class. Dr. Baumgartner, who is an expert inpsychology has stated that people in America dress to indicate theirsocial and economic status. According to Dr. Baumgartner, themeltdown of the economy has left a vast majority of the people inlower social and economic levels. As a result, people have adopteddressing as an indicator of social and economic status.
Clothes can be judged as being the source of power or a weaponagainst other people.
The choice of a wardrobe can have a tremendous influence on thepower a person has. In addition, people use clothes as a weapon. Thechoice of a designer that a person adopts determines how powerfulother people perceive him or her. This is clearly manifest in the TVseries Real Housewives where the participants use designer logos whenfighting. This is an indication that clothes can be used to judge howpowerful a person is in a confrontation. In this regard, theparticipants of the Television series use their clothes as weaponsand as indicators of their social and economic class5. Thechoice of clothing sends a strong message of a person’s powerstatus even before the wearer utters a word. Power and leadership isalso associated with certain types of clothes. In the workplace,women who wear long skirts and fully buttoned blouses are perceivedas being in leadership or management positions. On the contrary,women who wear short skirts above their knees and blouses with one ortwo unbuttoned buttons are believed to hold junior positions such assecretaries and receptionists.
A mention of the term a manager or an assistant manager in a companywill create a particular image of such a person. This implies thatappearance may have an element of power and authority. Managers andassistant managers attract a professional look from the passersby. Onthe contrary, the mention of a grounds man in a flower farm willinduce a different image.
It is definite that the appearance of the two people will bedifferent. In addition, research in psychology has also found thatwomen who are dressed masculine fashions are perceived as being goodand effective managers.
Clothing creates a good or a bad image of a person
Clothing speaks a million words about a person. The choice of dresscode will either send a good or a bad impression of a person.According to Dr. Baumgartner, wearing the most basic clothes willportray a positive image of a person. For instance, Dr. Baumgartnersuggests that wearing a black dress or a blazer would send a positiveimage of the wearer. Additionally, classic clothes are said to send apositive image of the wearer. This is because the classic clothes areuniversal and work with everybody. The that a person is wearing canbe used as a cue towards determining the level of confidence,beliefs, level of intelligence and the culture which such a personascribes to. The choice of clothes create the first impression that aperson makes. In an interview scenario, the choice of the wardrobemay determine a person’s chances of getting a job. Inappropriatedressing may significantly reduce the chances of person securing ajob.
Behavioral scientists argue that first impressions have no secondchance. In other words, the impression created at the first instancepeople meet cannot be changed.
For instance, the impression created by the dress code in a firstdate has significant implications on the judgment of the other party.According to the behavioral scientists, it takes only 30 seconds tocreate the first impression through what a person is dressing.However, the impression created may take over five years to erase.People who dress greatly seem to have high chances of success thanpeople dress poorly and look exhausted and tired.
Clothes reflect the behavior of the wearer
Psychological research has proven that the choice of a wardrobe hasa significant impact on the behavior that the wearer is perceived tohave. People who wear powerful professional clothes such as suits arebelieved to have professional behaviors. In addition, suchindividuals are also believed to behave professionally. For instance,such individuals are not believed to engage in unprofessionalbehaviors such as sexual assaults. People who are dressed powerfullyand professionally are also believed to have positive attitudes,stick to the business and maintaining eye contact during businessconversations. The converse has been proven through psychologicalresearch. People dressed up in clothes with washed out colors andtraditional wardrobe choices are believed to engage in informal andunprofessional behaviors. People will interpret the language of thebody and react accordingly to the choice of clothes.
Additionally, people dressed informally and unprofessionally areperceived as having relaxed mode behaviors. Such people are alsobelieved to engage in behaviors which are out of the context of thebusiness. In other words, inappropriately dressed people do not stickto the business and cannot maintain an eye contact.
Clothing can be used to determine the professional goals andambitions of the wearer
People who are appropriately and professionally dressed areperceived as having great professional goals and ambitions. Thechoice of dress code has an impact on the perception that the clientswill have on a person. In addition, profession dressing send theright message of the organization that an individual works for. It isalso vital to note that appropriate and professional dressingincreases the chances of rising the promotional rudder. Research hasstated that professionally dressed people have a higher possibilityof getting promoted than people who are casually dressed. Numerousprofessionals have argued that there is nothing comfortable inwearing a suit in the workplace, but they universally agree thatprofessional wears increase the chances of their professional growth.
Clothing can be used to determine the level of confidence of anindividual
When meeting a person for the first time, it is possible todetermine how more or less confident a person is. Psychologicalresearch has proven that people who are dressed smartly andpowerfully have immense confidence. There is a direct relationshipbetween how a person is dressed and the level of confidence that theperson has.
In other words, the choice of a wardrobe affects and the mind, aswell as how a person interacts with others and the outside world. Forinstance, studies have found out that subjects who white coatsbelieving that they are worn by doctors performed extremely well intests than those who thought that the courts are for street artists.The choice of what you wear must create comfort and confidence in thewearer. The wearer must feel good about what he or she is wearing andmust feel self-assured in whatever he or she is doing. The influencethat clothing has on an individual’s level of confidence wasexpounded in the concept called the enclothed cognition. Researcherscited this as the influence that clothes have on the psychologicalprocesses of the wearer.
The perception created by the cost of clothing
The different costs of clothes that a person chooses create varyingperceptions from passersby. The cost of clothing can be used as anindicator of the social and economic class that a person belongs. Itis also evident that the cost of clothing can be used to determinehow powerful a person and the position that a person is likely to beholding in an organization. Expensive and designer clothes withfamous logos are believed to be worn by people from a high classsociety. Equally, expensive clothes are also associated withcelebrities and political leaders. He converse holds to true.3
Cheap, unfit, itchy clothes are associated with people from the lowclass in society. Consequently, cheap clothes are also believed to beworn by people who hold lower positions in the organizations theywork. Such positions may include, receptionists and gatemen. It isalso evident from research that expensive clothes tend to attractrespect and appreciation from other people1. A perfectexample is a person who is inappropriately dressed attempting to seekhelp for bus fair at bus station. Chances are that such a person maynot get any help. However, a confidently and powerfully dressedperson may get more than enough help. Another example is a manager inan organization who is dressed professionally in expensive clothes.Such a manager is likely to have an upper hand in instruction hissubordinates than a manager who is dressed in unfit cheap suit fromthe streets.
The American society is divided in terms of social and economicclass. The economy has made numerous people to lose their classpositions in the society. As a result, the choice of the clothes thatpeople wear are used as the indicators of the social and economicclass that people want to belong. Expensive clothes are said to beworn by the high earners, as well as people from the high class admiddle class societies. People who belong to the low class of thesociety and earn low pay will be associated with cheap and lowquality clothes3. Consequently, expensive clothes areassociated with people who have immense confidence. Expensive clothesenable people to approach others with confidence and a feeling ofelf-worth. On the contrary, lack of proper dressing can negativelyinfluence the wearer.
Cheap and inappropriate dressing is perceived as a way ofinsufficient confidence and self-worth. It is therefore evidentlyclear that the cost of clothing creates different perceptions fromthe audience. It is imperative to wear unique and create clothes inorder to attract the appropriate attention and perception from theaudience.
The history of judging people solely on what they wear
Since time immemorial, people have been brainwashed to believe thatphysical and superficial appearance say everything about a person.People have been wrongly judged on the way they are dressed for fartoo long. A person walking down the street with tattered clothes willbe construed as being poor. A man with a suit will be perceived asbeing rich whereas he might have just used his last dollar to buy asuit for an interview4. Superficial appearance has beenused in history for purposes of stereotyping, discrimination andviolence. The holocaust where over six million Jews were killed bythe Nazis of Germany is a demonstration of how a person appearssuperficially can be used against him or her.
Dressing has also been used in history as a way of identifyingcertain people with particular cultures. For instance, Afghans arebelieved to wear jeans and shirts while going to work. The Afghanwomen have also been believed to wear dresses that cover them fromthe neck to the ankles. Such stereotypes have been used in history todiscriminate and associate people with certain cultures. The choiceof clothing has also been used in history to determine the religionthat a person subscribes.
For instance, Muslim women have been believed to wear hijabs tocover their bodies. Muslim men have also been believed to wear uniquehats associated with the Islamic faith. The Muslim men have also beenbelieved to be wearing white lobes while going to the mosque.
The major role of dressing in history was mainly to conceal thebody. However, the role of dressing and the perception it has createdhas changed over time. Clothes are now being used as a sign of power,success, social and economic class, as well as for competition.Numerous designers have cropped up over time to try and createclothes that are unique and which will create the intended impressionto the audience5. It is no surprising to meet a personwearing skimpily in order to create a certain impression. It is alsoimperative to note that in the previous years, clothes weredistinctly divided between feminine and masculine clothes. However,that distinction has since changed. It is not a wonder to go to acloth line and find unisex clothes or shoes.
Unfortunately, the choice of dressing has been used negatively tostereotype particular groups of people. Clothing has become a sourceof social stigma in the American society. People are largely judgedbased on their superficial appearance. For instance, a man can bejudged as being gay simply because he is smartly dressed. Equally,women who are dressed in masculine clothes are more often than notconstrued to be lesbians5. Discrimination on the basis ofreligion has also been imminent with people being judged based on howthey are dressed.
In conclusion, it has been proven that clothing has a significantimpact on the perception other people have on the wearer.
The superficial appearance of an individual creates the firstimpression of the person. The first impression created has been citedas critically important since it is extremely hard to eliminate.People are judged within the first 30 seconds of meeting anotherperson on the basis of the clothes they are wearing. A person’spersonality, level of confidence, type of employment and the socialclass, as well as the behaviors can be determined by just looking atthe clothes the person is wearing. Unfortunately, clothing has beenused as a way of stigmatization in the society. People are judgedwrongly on the basis of the clothes they wear.
Baumgartner, J. J., You are what you wear: what your clothesreveal about you, Boston, Da
Capo Press, 2012.
Flusser, A. J., Dressing the man: mastering the art of permanentfashion, New York, HarperCollins, 2013.
Gross, K. J., Dress smart–women: wardrobes that win in the newworkplace, New York, Warner Books, 2008.
1 J. Baumgartner, You are what you wear: what your clothes reveal about you, Boston, Da
Capo Press, 2012, p. 40
2 A. Flusser, Dressing the man: mastering the art of permanent fashion, New York, HarperCollins, 2013, p 55
3 J. Baumgartner, You are what you wear: what your clothes reveal about you, Boston, Da
Capo Press, 2012, p 66
4 A. Flusser, Dressing the man: mastering the art of permanent fashion, New York, HarperCollins, 2013, p 108
25 K. Gross, Dress smart–women: wardrobes that win in the new workplace, New York, Warner Books, 2008.
31. J. Baumgartner, You are what you wear: what your clothes reveal about you, Boston, Da Capo Press, 2012.
3. K. Gross, Dress smart–women: wardrobes that win in the new workplace, New York, Warner Books, 2008.
44 A Flusser, Dressing the man: mastering the art of permanent fashion, New York, HarperCollins, 2013.
5 K. Gross, Dress smart–women: wardrobes that win in the new workplace, New York, Warner Books, 2008.