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The tailor-made suit is a luxury product. Something that not everyone can afford, but which many people aspire to have. Because a tailor-made suit makes you look perfect, as is often said. But did you know that a tailor-made suit does not always work in your favor? Because it doesn’t give that good first impression you’d expect? Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire show how clothing influences opinion. In this article, I explain exactly how it works.
Tailored suit creates a good impression
The British researchers wanted to find out how much influence a tailor-made suit has when someone sees a man for the first time. And whether it makes a better impression than if the man in question wears a suit that is not made to measure. To ensure that the face would not influence the survey, the researchers cut it out of the photos. And to prevent color from having an influence, a dark blue suit with a herringbone pattern was worn in both photos. In one photo, the suit was custom made, in the other it was not.
For each photo, the respondents had to indicate whether they got a positive impression of the man. Five measures were used for the assessment: trust, success, salary, flexibility, and reliability. The study found that men in a tailored suit were consistently rated more positively than men in a standard suit. Scores were higher on the first four measures in particular. The tailor-made suit, therefore, did not score higher in terms of reliability.
This is no coincidence. An earlier study (Kwon, 1994) has shown that men are convinced that good clothing has an influence. They think that with the right clothes; they look intelligent, competent, knowledgeable, honest, and trustworthy.
At these times, a tailor-made suit does not work in your favor
The researchers at the University of Hertfordshire also examined whether the respondents’ income influenced the rating. This indeed turned out to be the case. The higher the rater’s income, the lower a man in a suit scored. Both the man in the tailor-made suit and the man in a standard suit were judged less positively. The researchers expect this to be because the respondents with a higher income are more used to suits than people with a lower income. And therefore it has less influence on their judgment.
It actually sounds very logical. The more suits you see in everyday life, the less impressed you are. Also the number of suits we see in everyday life has been declining for years. Even banks no longer require it. When you look at leaders of large corporations such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson, the suit doesn’t come into play.
But let’s not forget that a tailor-made suit leaves a good impression in most cases. Provided, of course, that it looks really nice. Because if you do it, you have to do it right.