Dressing appropriately sometimes means wearing the opposite of what you think you should be wearing, says a recent Harvard study. The Wall Street Journal reports that “standing out in certain circumstances, like wearing sweats in a luxury store, also appears to boost an individual’s standing.”
Which totally makes sense if you think about it. Getting decked out to browse at Bergdorf’s is the fashion equivalent of taking a stretch limo to a movie at your local Cineplex. You’re trying too hard, probably because you’re faking it. Deviating from social norms can lead to a positive uptick in what people think about you, says the study. For instance, wearing sweatpants to work will make people think you’re super-rich because you probably don’t give a shit about getting fired. That’s why people who walk around in gym clothes all the time look like wealth—they don’t need jobs like the rest of us, so they can just do yoga and juice all day. Walk into a Chanel store dressed like that and shop assistants will immediately recognize you as the confident, deliberately offbeat, I-could-care-less type of shopper who might drop a few stacks on a new bag just because it’s Tuesday and you’ve got nothing better to do.
Just respect the boundaries. The key is to look like someone who is intentionally dressing like they don’t know what’s appropriate, not like a crazy person who doesn’t understand how to behave. No one wants to deal with an actual eccentric, just a rich person with the gall to act like one.