Peter Urs Bender   Previous Page  |  Next Page

How to Dress or:
"Kleider Machen Leute"

This old Swiss saying is very true: clothes do make the person.
The way you dress has a lot to do with what the audience thinks
of you. If you wear the "right" clothes, they will assume that you
are successful. If you appear in casual dress, they will think
that you are a casual person. And so on.
     An experiment was conducted in which an actor, dressed
as a business executive in a dark suit and carrying an expen-
sive attache case, stood on a street corner of a large city and
proceeded to ask for money. He gave the story that he had
forgotten his wallet at home as he approached passersby for
bus fare. Other businessmen stopped to talk to him and many
offered him several dollars, some suggesting that he take a cab.
At the end of the day, the actor had made several hundred
     The next day of the experiment, the actor dressed only in
casual jeans and a windbreaker. He stood on the same busy
street corner and asked for change to make a telephone call,
saying that he wanted to apply for a job that he saw advertised
in a newspaper. This time the response was different. As the
man asked passersby, people would pause in hesitation. They
wondered what he would really do with the quarter. They
questioned his sincerity. At the end of the day, he had made
less than twenty dollars.
     Finally, on the third day of the experiment, the actor put
on his worst clothes and dressed like a bum. On the same busy
corner, he stuck out his hat and asked for change and nearly
everyone ignored him. Only a few people stopped at all.
     What happened? It was the same man, in three different
disguises, and there were three different results. The experi-
ment showed that perception is reality. People are more likely

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