The Secret to Zuckerberg

I’ve joined a cult lately — SoulCycle. Because of this, I’ve been spending my free time in Santa Monica and I’ve noticed that everyone is wearing gym clothes. No matter how much my grandma may disapprove, this is becoming an acceptable way to dress in Los Angeles.

I’ve always wondered if these people that I see at Whole Foods don’t have jobs at all. If so, how are they treated in the workplace if they are casual and fun? As far as I know, Hillary Clinton dresses in pant suits to display authority. When did this new norm come to place? Or is this just an anomaly in wealthy neighborhoods? After all, we’ve seen those successful tech CEOs wear startup shirts and jeans all the time!

In my pondering, I found this study titled “The Red Sneakers Effect: Inferring Status and Competence from Signals and Nonconformity.” They discovered that people that wear clothing outside the expected norm tend to be of higher status and authority.

In layman’s terms, if you wear crazy socks to a work meeting, you’re probably the CEO. ;)

According to them, people who don’t conform to social norms can risk social costs of nonconformity without losing their place in the social hierarchy. It said a lot of rambly things about conformity and deviant behaviors but here are a few takeaways from this.

Fake it until you make it. Maybe sporting your favorite colorful socks in weddings and other formal environments isn’t so bad after all! Dressing outside the norm (intentionally!) will show other people that you are confident and cannot be swayed by others’ judgments.

Also, we can go the other way. When you wear something unique, you become unique. According to the Labeling Theory, your perceptions are shaped by the labels that you use to describe a person. For me, this could mean that if I think of myself as confident, I will be confident. If you wear crazy cool socks and assume authority, you will be dignified and respected. Another theory that supports this is “embodied cognition” which states that the way a person dresses often dictates his or her thought process. All these point to the same fact — wear the damn fun socks and you’ll be a better person!

So if you are still wearing those basic socks from Target, you might have to take them off. Head to FEAT Socks and purchase a few pairs! You can use the discount code, zuckerberg, for 30% off all orders!