I was stunned to witness a clone invasion while lunching in the City recently.
A bunch of people on their work break came in, all wearing identical outfits!
Every single man wore a suit with a pale blue shirt.
And every woman wore a pencil skirt, heels and trench mac. It was sartorial monotony gone mad.
So, with my fashion psychology hat on, I pondered.... what’s with the dressalikes?
Forget putting in the hours and hitting targets, new research suggests that dressing like your colleagues is the way to boost your career trajectory.
Debenhams surveyed 2,000 people on work place dressing recently. Six in ten people (61%) said that dressing like their colleagues created a better team spirit and a higher level of productivity.
Perhaps this explains the office trend of 'work twins'. Could this be a key look for the new season?
- More than half of those surveyed said that they were heavily influenced by what their managers and colleagues wear to work.
And a third (33%) said their team deliberately bought the same clothes and wore them on the same day! Apparently ‘Checked shirt Fridays’ and ‘Blue Mondays” were popular with men, while female workers were fans of ‘Monochrome Mondays’ and ‘Floral Fridays’.
- Interestingly the majority of managers surveyed (68%) also said that staff with a similar style to them gained brownie points and were more on their radar.
There's a psychological reason for this. Humans tend to be drawn to people who are like them, since difference can be perceived as threatening. People feel safer when they dress alike. They are signalling their need to belong to the group. A team that chooses the same style of dress for work is indicating their cohesiveness and could reflect a wider collaborative culture within the organisation or a high need for conformity.
It’s well known that bosses often appoint and promote people who are like them.
Clothes are a shorthand for who we are and what we are like, and research shows clothes can also change the wearer’s personality.
So dressing like the boss may bring out a person’s leadership behaviours. It could even subconsciously influence others to see them as management material. You could say that people who dress like their superiors have found a smart way to get noticed and accepted.
This story ran in the press last week and the Independent showed that copycat dressing extends beyond the workplace. Apparently Gareth Bale, when waiting for his dream move to Madrid, started dressing like his new teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in the run-up to the deal!
One of my Twitter followers, a guy, pointed out that he wouldn’t be dressing like a boss – as she’s female. Fair enough.
And when I did a Jack FM radio interview about this story the interviewer told me their boss is a keen cyclist. They were all thinking of coming to work in Lycra the following morning. I wonder what that did for their promotion chances?