March 19, 2014

"Pedestrians were more likely to think that a well-dressed individual was more likely to have the money to buy something in the store."

"Shop assistants thought the opposite. Those more familiar with the luxury retail environment were more likely to assume that a gym-clothes-wearing client was confident enough to not need to dress up more, and therefore more apt to be a celebrity making a purchase than someone wrapped in fur."

From a Wall Street Journal article titled, "Success Outside the Dress Code/The subtle cues that help nonconformists break from the pack and thrive; Power of sweatpants."

37 comments:

EDH said...

"You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweatpants?"

Tom said...

Does this apply to men wearing shorts? Do they get better service?

Tank said...

Early in my career I represented a man who was purchasing a piece of property. He picked me up and we drove to the closing. We were on good terms and I joked about how he dressed up for the occasion (he looked like he just finished gardening or painting). He said, I don't have to dress up, I've got the money.

Touche'

The Cracker Emcee said...

I once had a couple of tweakers tell me I dressed like a lawyer. Still laughing about that one.

Johanna Lapp said...

Observing the du Pont heirs and their chums in northern Delaware, I noticed that the favorite automobile is a Datsun.

Not a Nissan.

A Datsun.

virgil xenophon said...

Echoing Tank, the people who have to dress up are the corporate careerists. (And their bosses--unless one is in a Silicon Valley type firm.) But sweat pants only get it if you're driving a Jag or Bentley convertible. Wearing them while seen stepping out of a Ford Fiesta blows the whole image thingee and just marks you as a slob (Unless you really ARE coming back from the gym :) )

virgil xenophon said...

@Johanna Lapp

They're also likely to be the ones drinking wine from a box in the Frige, also.

madAsHell said...

I never judge by the clothing, but I do listen to their speech.

rhhardin said...

I wear sweat pants half the year and never buy anything.

Levi Starks said...

My dad used to tell the story of the time he showed up at a welding supply store in old work jeans, and asked for information on a rather expensive welder, and the salesman immediately started trying to talk him into a much less expensive model.
He said thanks, and promptly went to the competitor and pulled 10 Grand from his pocket and bought the machine he wanted with cash.

SayAahh said...

I judge by the content of their Althouse posts.

Bruce Hayden said...

He said thanks, and promptly went to the competitor and pulled 10 Grand from his pocket and bought the machine he wanted with cash.

Reminds me a bit of a movie I have seen several times (at least in pieces). Black guys go into exotic car place. Want to test drive. Black salesman won't give them the keys because of the way they are dressed (he is in a suit). White guy winks, and tosses keys to them. Turns out the assistant has a duffle bag full of cash that they use to buy the car, and make sure that the white sales guy got credit.

n.n said...

While profiling is not discrimination, it may lead to discrimination. Profiling is an integral aspect of living.

Ann Althouse said...

Dressing is complex, and you don't know which way the dresser is trying to influence you.

At the very least, you know the person had the wherewithal to acquire those clothes, but that's a very small item of information within the vast set of reasons why a person is dressed as they are.

All the deceit and manipulation done through clothes... part of that is done by seeming not to be doing anything at all with clothes.

Strelnikov said...

Duh.

Somehow, I'm sure my tax dollars were wasted on this study from Capt. Obvious.

YoungHegelian said...

Well, I'll bet you won't get any service at all if you come dressed as a big, fuzzy, penis-crushing toilet seat. Especially from the male salesmen, like at a welding supply store.

Dagnabbit! Have I conflated topics again? Damn medication.....

Mark Leavy said...

There is a a great story from Steinbeck. John is painting a barn with his handyman and asks his handyman to run into town to pick up some more paint - as they are running out. The handyman says that he will need to change clothes first. John asks "why?, you're just running into town to buy more paint." The handyman responds, "You've got to have a lot of money to dress the way you do, John."

George said...

Go into a kuxury hotel with a paper bag of cash and you'll be treated as an eccentric billionaire. Folks whose livelihood swirls around the rich understand one of the privileges of wealth is to not give a damn about what others think. Only the bourgeois care about such things.

Mark Leavy said...

There is a a great story from Steinbeck. John is painting a barn with his handyman and asks his handyman to run into town to pick up some more paint - as they are running out. The handyman says that he will need to change clothes first. John asks "why?, you're just running into town to buy more paint." The handyman responds, "You've got to have a lot of money to dress the way you do, John."

Michael said...

Dressing down is the deal in the new soviet. Very bad form to indicate status by dress unless, of course, you are a retail salesperson trained to know the difference between a $500 sweat suit and a $50 sweat suit. Everybody now wants to act like they have enough money to do as they please, act as they please, dress as they please, speak and write as they please. Bad form to criticize, worse form to judge. Fine by me. As a rebel and non-conformist I suit up every day. Game on.

bsand112 said...

It seems that salespeople are speaking from experience, but pedestrians are speaking from an intuitive sense. A good salesperson in an expensive store has probably studied their subjects more then a guy walking down the street.

George said...

The point is that the "intuitive sense" of the pedestrians is largely incorrect and misinformed by bourgouis notions.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Mark Leavy, you beat me to it. I don't like you anymore :-)
Another twist: Back in the '70s I worked with a guy who had been a service tech for industrial diesels.
Going to a job in the UK, he's dressed in full suit-and-tie to meet the factory manager. After the preliminaries, the manager asks "Where's your fitter?" (fitter = wrench monkey). Guy walks out to the factory floor, strips off his suit, revealing overalls. Cue dropped jaws all round.

Fred Drinkwater said...

FYI, that Steinbeck story is from "Travels With Charley".

Peter said...

Hi-rise apartment buildings in New York (and, I suppose, elsewhere) often have doormen, and they're supposed to ask you what your business is if you don't live there.

BUT they are rarely able to actually remember everyone who lives in the building. Which means, you can game the system by looking as though you live there.

I found out as a child that if you stride confidently into a building and don't provide eye contact with anyone you'll seldom get challenged.

Was there a hidden dress code here as well? Well, I dunno, but there might be. Mostly it was a matter of projected attitude.

And that might well be the case in a very high-end store: if you don't really fell like you belong there then you probably don't belong there.

Anthony said...

If I ever go into a high end retail store I'm going to wear baggy sweats, a big floppy hat, and big sunglasses. I bet I get impeccable service.

Brent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brent said...

I dress in a suit everyday for work. On lunch I often run errands for my wife. Whatever store I go into, I get asked constantly if I need help. So much so that it becomes frustrating (especially if I am on my cell phone - it is rude to interrupt when I am just browsing while talking on my phone and not asking for help). I don't get the same attention on the weekends when I am dressed casually. So my experience is the opposite of the survey. Interestingly, I am pretty cheap and don't spend much at designer stores. So the retail people in the survey have it right with me. They should not assume I will be spending well.

southcentralpa said...

There's sweatpants and then there's the sort of sweatpants that gets one featured in People of Wal-Mart.

ken in sc said...

I went to elementary school with a guy whose dad always dropped him off at school in a brand new Lincoln every year. He always wore what his dad wore, jeans, flannel shirt, and contractor boots. He told why his dad always bought a new Lincoln every year. It seems that one time the local Cadillac dealer looked at his dad's clothes and tried to sell him a Pontiac when he was looking for a Cadillac. He went down the street and paid cash for a Lincoln and had done that every year since. He was a paving contractor.

Titus said...

Someone i did recently, said to me, "you look like a pilot, are you one".

I am not sure how to take that comment.

tits.

Michael said...

Titus: It was an insult.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Does this post need a normcore tag?

FullMoon said...

The difference between a squirrel and a rat is the clothes they wear

Freeman Hunt said...

"I wear sweat pants half the year and never buy anything"

That's not true. You bought all those fans. They knew you could afford all those fans because of the sweatpants.

Iapetus said...

Where I live, there's a strong possibility that the simply dressed old Chinese man shuffling down the street is a wealthy land owner who holds title to the land under several luxury high-rise condominiums. His (grand)sons and (grand)daughters probably all attend Stanford or MIT or Harvard. Around here, we don't judge by the clothes.

The Godfather said...

People, like other animals, are better at those things on which their survival depends. If your job is to sell high-end merchandise to rich people, you either develop a good rich-people detector, or you find another line of work.

This is one of the reasons why markets work. Don't take my word for it. Ask Hayek or Friedman.