You only get one chance to make a good first impression. You hear that phrase a lot, but do first impressions really matter? Yes, yes they do. Researchers have found that first impressions play a major role in basic human interaction. We tend to make snap judgments about people within the first few seconds of meeting somebody, even though we know that it's generally wrong to stereotype and make assumptions. But we just can't help it -- it's human nature.
The most interesting fact that came from the studies is that first impressions are usually extremely accurate. Even though we're not supposed to do it, you can judge a book by its cover. Researchers found that people can take in subtleties about a person's overall physical appearance and make surprisingly accurate guesses about that person's personality and lifestyle in under a second. Pretty impressive, isn't it? Image source: Orangeinks.com
Clothing is the single most important factor in determining first impressions. Certain physical characteristics like a person's grooming habits, height, and weight also affect first impressions, but by and large clothing is the thing people look at first and the most. Professors Karen J. Pine, Ben Fletcher, and Neil Howlett of the University of Hertfordshire performed a study on 306 participants and found that a person's clothing fundamentally affects others' perceptions.
The researchers gave a man a tailored suit, and then an off-the-rack suit. They found that participants rated the man as being much more confident, successful, trustworthy, wealthy, and flexible when he wore the tailored suit. They wrote, "Apparently minor clothing manipulations gave rise to significantly different first impressions of the man, with a more positive impression being created by the bespoke than the off-the-peg suit."
They had similar results when they changed the clothing of a woman, but the differences weren't quite as dramatic. The researchers hypothesized that first impressions about feminine outfits were more flexible because women's fashion is much more diverse. Image source: Yourmarketingbff.com
Clearly, the right outfit will have a major impact in how others perceive you. If you want to send out a certain message to your audience or to your customers, it's absolutely imperative that you wear the right outfit to support that message. Company employees should look sharp and professional; church groups should look friendly and open; salesmen should look confident and driven. Custom clothing can help your organization put the best foot forward by making killer first impressions every single time.
If you're in the market for a new custom outfit, spend a few minutes thinking about the type of message that you want to send to your intended marketing demographic. Then, figure out what type of clothing will help you share that message. Based on this research, it might be the single most important decision that your organization can make.