Have you noticed that people react to you differently based on what you wear? Do certain outfits lend you special treatment and others yield the silent treatment? Has a sharp suit won you a seat upgrade on a plane? Have sweatpants made you feel like a leper at the grocery store? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’ve experienced the social dynamics of clothing.
Judging someone solely on attire may seem unfair. Really, I’m the same person whether I’m sporting Prada or Payless. I still drink milk out of a wine glass and prefer my sandwiches cut in triangles, no matter what I’m wearing. But there’s no avoiding it: Looks matter, and there’s no reason why we can’t use that to our advantage.
Why Looks Matter
So you might be thinking, “Duh. I kind of already knew that.” Homeless-guy fashion does not lend itself well to social gatherings, and socks on ears are generally frowned upon (excluding a few very fashion-forward designers). I agree with you. And that’s why I’d like to scratch the socio-apparel surface a bit deeper.
My goal is to offer you research-based facts that may prompt you to rethink the garb you grab when standing before your closet in the morning. I aim to show you that picking the right apparel can prove very valuable. Moreover, clothes can, in part, determine your success with women, how much money you make and the way people treat you in general. I’ll also include fashion tips to help you conquer each domain. There are some mighty big claims here — let’s see if there’s any truth to them.
Clothes Affect Your Success With Women
In one university study, women rated the attractiveness of one man dressed in several different getups. Outfits ranged from a designer suit and tricked-out watch all the way down to a lowly fast-food uniform. As you can imagine, ladies preferred the power suit to the burger-flipping one. But it’s why they chose the businessman that’s important.
The study notes that girls actively sought signs of “status” when judging the man’s clothes, and they liked that look better because it suggested a good provider. In other words, women do care what you wear, and this is why looks matter. Girls favor a put-together guy because it’s likelier he can put food on the table. Does this make all women gold diggers? Not exactly. Though like the humble homing pigeon, which can detect subtle signs to lead it home, women’s brains are awesomely adept at spotting signs on men that point to prosperity. (Note: Women do not have the brains of pigeons. Don’t pin that on me.)
So, clothes can be a tool to boost your standing with the opposite sex, but what kind of style should you be channeling? Fortunately, you don’t have to be a billionaire to win a lady’s hand. More realistically, you just have to nail the right details.
The goods you need to command a girl’s attention: A quality timepiece, a fitted (though not necessarily designer) suit, a well-polished pair of oxfords or boots, and a crisp button-down shirt. Equipped with these style essentials, you can scientifically increase your chances with women. (Note: Unless you respond to the name Jay-Z, never “over-bling” yourself. The risk of looking like a Christmas ornament stands too great.
Clothes Affect How Much Money You Make
A nationwide poll dubbed the “Well-Dressed Men Survey” was conducted this year by a well-known men’s retailer, and several gems were unearthed. For instance, 75% of Americans believe well-dressed men earn higher wages than the less-polished. Also, 22% of male participants confessed they’d probably make more money if they dressed better. Amazingly, Americans already seem to know the sway clothes can hold over career. And just by mastering a few style secrets, three out of four people agree you’ll be reaping more dollars at your job.
Another Michigan State University study found that “good-looking” people earn up to 8% more than the “average-looking,” who, in turn, make 5% to 10% more than the “plain-looking.” Of course, apparel plays a big part in this. We men are labeled as handsome or ho-hum based on our looks, and this directly affects how much coin we amass in our lifetime — you might say it pays to dress well. It should be noted that donning a top hat and cane doesn’t mean strangers will start handing you $100 bills on the street. Instead, your immediate reward is commanding a certain degree of respect at the workplace. Then your long-term prize is living a heightened sense of stylish self, which will ultimately earn you more cash in your career. To achieve the look we’re talking about, think dapper.
The gear you need to make more money: Business Attire, which includes a collection of high-quality suits (gray, navy, black, and khaki, for starters), an assortment of top-notch ties, Italian leather shoes and suede loafers, and accessories such as classic cuff links, pocket squares and a premium pen. These items demand more respect from coworkers and they tend to instill more charm in the boardroom.
Clothes Affect How People Treat You
When you first meet someone, they instantly assess everything about you. They can sense if you’re sad, nervous, threatening, or possibly even gassy (possibly). If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, you may know what I’m getting at. Across history, humans have had to gauge meaning quickly. Does that dinosaur want to eat me? Does this girl want to have sex? Is that a banana in that caveman’s pocket, or does he plan to club me atop the head with a concealed bone? Over time, people have grown really good at judging situations fast. Interestingly, the same holds true with clothes. People judge your outfit in a fraction of a second. You walk through the door and — bam — they’ve already formed an opinion of your attire and of you.
You don’t need me to tell you this, though; you’ve likely noticed these snap judgments yourself. Take, for example, a time you proudly wore your best outfit for a night on the town. Your confidence was soaring as you entered the evening’s establishment, and like a glorious bolt of lightening, you were struck with a few quick yet unmistakable glances from women. Alternatively, remember the time you woke up late for work and slapped on the nearest shirt and pants within snatching distance? It was dark, unfortunately, and you couldn’t have guessed you’d end up looking like a Muppet who raided a thrift store. You despised that outfit the entire day. Worse still, you met a beautiful girl for the first time, and there was no way to explain your fashion faux pas.
These examples reveal that looks do matter and that clothes can take on a bigger meaning with people we meet. In a way, we’re not just talking about clothes here. We’re talking about an external extension of ourselves that breeds either confidence or shame, and commands either respect or disinterest (hopefully not pity). The question is, what kind of clothes set you up for success with new people you meet?
Style tips to win respect from strangers: The most important rule here is to always wear outfits that are you. If you don’t believe in your attire, no one else will. This is not to say that you aren’t a complex and multilayered person who experiences different moods on different days. If your temperament calls for a dangerous night, opt for a black leather jacket. If you’re feeling debonair and can’t shake Sinatra from your head, reach for a suit and tie. Always trust your gut and wear what you feel, because people can sense when your getup has you glum — and we want you owning the night.