Despite the “we’re all equal” trope that seems to be all the rage today, !Science! tells us that it just ain’t so (emphasis added):
People perceive a person’s competence partly based on subtle economic cues emanating from the person’s clothing, according to a study published in Nature Human Behaviour by Princeton University. These judgments are made in a matter of milliseconds, and are very hard to avoid.
In nine studies conducted by the researchers, people rated the competence of faces wearing different upper-body clothing. Clothing perceived as “richer” by an observer—whether it was a T-shirt, sweater, or other top—led to higher competence ratings of the person pictured than similar clothes judged as “poorer,” the researchers found.
Given that competence is often associated with social status, the findings suggest that low-income individuals may face hurdles in relation to how others perceive their abilities—simply from looking at their clothing.
I’ve banged on about this topic several times before, but now that I have !Science! to back me up, I’m going to say it again, with feeling:
Dress like a slob, get treated like one. Even worse, if the above study is to be believed, is that if you dress like a slob your competence is going to be dismissed, especially when compared with someone who doesn’t look (as I’ve said before) as though he’s just come from a beach party by way of working on his friend’s car.
It doesn’t matter, by the way, how unfair you think this prejudice is; it’s simply the way of the world, and bleating about the unfairness of it won’t change a thing.