The influence of clothing on first impressions

Neil Howlett (Department of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK)
Karen Pine (Department of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK and Department of Applied Science, Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey)
Ismail Orakçıoğlu (Department of Applied Science, Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey)
Ben Fletcher (Department of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK and Department of Applied Science, Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey)

Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management

ISSN: 1361-2026

Publication date: 22 February 2013

Abstract

Purpose

Clothing communicates information about the wearer and first impressions can be heavily influenced by the messages conveyed by attire. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of minor changes in clothing on the perception of a male model, in the absence of facial information with limited time exposure.

Design/methodology/approach

In an on‐line study, 274 participants rated four images on five dimensions (confidence, success, trustworthiness, salary and flexibility). The man was depicted wearing a bespoke (made‐to‐measure) and a regular (off‐the‐peg) suit, which differed only in minor details. Participants saw the faceless images for a maximum five seconds.

Findings

The man was rated more positively on all attributes apart from trustworthiness when pictured in the bespoke suit. The earnings of participants also played a role in perception, with higher earners giving lower ratings to both suit types.

Practical implications

Minor clothing manipulations can give rise to significantly different inferences. Even small changes in clothing choice can communicate different information to a perceiver. On the evidence of this study it appears men may be advised to purchase clothing that is well‐tailored, as it can positively enhance the image they communicate to others.

Originality/value

This study is the first to empirically investigate first impressions using time‐limited images with minor clothing manipulations on a faceless model. Impressions arose only from clothing and were not confounded by physical attractiveness or facial features.

Keywords

Citation

Howlett, N., Pine, K., Orakçıoğlu, I. and Fletcher, B. (2013), "The influence of clothing on first impressions", Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 38-48. https://doi.org/10.1108/13612021311305128

Download as .RIS

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.