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.
Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 22, 2013
Keywords: Clothing; Men; Perceptions; First impressions; Bespoke; Influence; Communication