Saturday, March 29, 2014

To get dolled up is the ultimate end product of any shopper’s existence. Think Pretty Woman if you don't understand. The popular 1990 movie where basically Julia Roberts' character goes into a fancy store and get snubbed by the staff, wearing her hooker dress on Rodeo Drive. A study out of Harvard Business School about nonconformity recently made the news, suggesting that dressing down might actually signal more purchase power and intent than someone wearing, say, a fur coat and a dress. The research — published in the Journal of Consumer Research and authored by doctoral student Silvia Bellezza and two Harvard professors — found that luxury shop assistants in Milan perceived those outfitted in gym clothes as more moneyed than people who were spiffed up. It makes sense, as confident types — and confidence is key here, you must come off like you’re deviating from the norm on purpose — typically don’t see the need to overcompensate. I tested the theory out for myself on a recent morning trip to the famous Robertson Blvd with my bff. Wearing sweats, converse and a light, plain unidentifiable cropped leather jacket, and cloth tote. I made sure I looked otherwise groomed and not homeless — showered, hair blown out, little makeup in tact with a swipe of berry Chanel lipstick. My bff was there to observe things from afar. It should be said that I know this experiment is far from scientific: It was a specific day at a specific time, with specific employees. By no means am I trying to make any blanket statements about the stores I went into, which I picked because either I’ve purchased from them before or just had good browsing experiences. The verdict? Don’t go to fancy stores in sweatpants if you want people to fawn over you. True, there were some exceptions, but overall I was passed over — even when there were no other customers around. Not a great feeling. Of course, ideally, you shouldn’t have to dress a certain way just to get someone to say hello to you, but I’d be lying, after going through this little escapade, if I said it didn’t help (and of course, you could always ask for assistance first). But if you do indeed still want to dress down for your next day of retail therapy, I observed that a good handbag seems to trump all. Maybe even sweats.

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