Would you wear jeans and a t-shirt to work? Most of us would say no. Wearing nice clothes is considered to be a sign of status. It shows how much you’ve achieved and your social standing. But how do you explain Adam Sandler?
Adam Sandler is one of the most financially successful actors today. His movies have grossed over $2 billion and Adam formed a film production company, Happy Madison Productions, which has put out a string of hit movies and shows.
With all of this success, Adam makes no attempt to dress the part. Have you seen him on a late night talk show? Shorts, flip flops, and a worn t-shirt are common. This is not a critique; I am far from being the fashion police. My point is that the clothes do not always make the man.
According to research from Francesca Gino, a behavioral scientist and Harvard Business School professor, non-conforming attire can be a signal of success and competence. In one study, she found:
- …shop assistants working in luxury boutiques in Milan assigned greater status to a woman wearing gym clothes and a jean jacket than to a woman wearing a dress and fur coat.
- …in such a powerful position that [they] can risk the social costs of violating norms without fear of losing [their] place in the social hierarchy.
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…shop assistants working in luxury boutiques in Milan assigned greater status to a woman wearing gym clothes and a jean jacket than to a woman wearing a dress and fur coat.
In another study, college students identified a professor in a t-shirt and beard as being higher status when compared to wearing a tie and being clean-shaven.
Why does dressing down have such positive effects? Put simply, it is a display of power and confidence. When people are willing to buck the system by dressing in a way unlike their peers, Dr, Gino stated that these non-conformists are considered to be:
…in such a powerful position that [they] can risk the social costs of violating norms without fear of losing [their] place in the social hierarchy.
If you are considering breaking your organization’s dress codes in favor of unleashing your inner Sandler, keep these things in mind:
- Adam Sandler is an international movie star. You do not have this same clout.
- Talk shows do not have a dress code; your workplace does.
- Adam is dressing in a way that is true to his personality. How you dress should do the same.
You may have limited opportunity for absolute individuality and non-conformity in your attire. However, depending on the stringency of your rules, no one says that suits must be blue, shirts must be white and socks must be black. Simply adding color may make you a rebel….flip flops are optional.