What you’re wearing affects whether people follow your lead or do what you say.
You’ve probably heard the phrases “Clothes make the man” and “Dress for success.” These are two sayings that actually have research to back them up.
Lefkowitz, Blake, and Mouton (1955) had an experimenter in a city cross the street against the traffic. When he was dressed in a suit, three-and-a-half times as many people followed him as when he was wearing a work shirt and trousers. Business suits are a form of authority clothing.
In a study by Bickman (1974), the experimenter stopped a person on the street, pointed to an accomplice 50 feet away, and said, “You see that guy over there by the meter? He’s overparked but doesn’t have any change. Give him a dime!” The experimenter would then leave. The “guy over there” was part of the experiment. When the experimenter was wearing a uniform (for example, a guard uniform), most people complied with the instruction to give the other person money for the parking meter. When he was dressed in regular street clothes, compliance was less than 50 percent.