Dressing Against the Norm – what does it say about you?

From eccentric socks to dressing against our gendered expectations, in Fashion many people push the limits of social norms. Research has shown that non-conformists can be viewed as being of a higher status and more competent than others. On the blog today we aim to take a look at what different clothing says about the wearer.

dressing against the norm

Against gendered expectations

The line is becoming increasingly blurred between male and female clothing. Many people are speaking up, opposing the ideas that men and women should be dressed according to their sex. But, are you presenting yourself in a different way when you dress against the gendered expectations?

Fashionistas are saying that they don’t agree with gender rules, some research suggests we’re still stuck in our old ways. Psychologists in New Jersey found that attitudes towards gender stereotypes hadn’t changed much between 1983 and 2014.

There is an argument that shows that it’s favourable for women to cross the gender barrier but perhaps not men. Back in the 90’s it was found that men dressed more masculine were more likely to get hired that those who did. In other research it was found that despite the sex of the applicant with more masculine attires got hired. When men dressed in pink, they were seen as less intelligent than women who were wearing the same colour.

Eccentric wear

Another way of going against the grain when it comes to style it through eccentric clothing. When we think of outrageous outfits we may think of people with brightly coloured clothing and over the top jewellery. But, there are other ways to express freedom through dress.

For example, people who wear unconventional socks are viewed as being rebellious and expressive. One of these people is Justin Trudeau, the current Prime Minister of Canada.  He shows off his fun side by wearing funky socks with a traditional suit. Make your own subtle ‘eccentric’ changes through patterned socks by CT shirts, online retailers of men’s formal shirts and accessories. Or make yourself stand out from the crowd through bright scarves and other extras.

dressing against the norm

By dressing against the norms, studies have shown that you build a brand of being ‘gutsy’. And in fact, people have the potential to see you as more brilliant, creative and successful. A 2014 study found that non-conformists can be viewed as of a higher status than those who don’t. They were also considered to be more competent — potentially influencing the impression that they give off in the workplace.

Not only does it affect people’s perceptions but it can  affect the way you think, feel and act. This is through ‘embodied cognition’, since eccentric dress gives you greater potential to express your individuality.  It’s possible that it can make you feel more confident and comfortable in different situations. This could then go on to improve your performance at work or in challenges where you want to push yourself.

Against the dress code

There are certain situations where dressing in accordance with the expectations is the best thing to do. Such instances can included interviewing for a job,  under some circumstances we think that people with extraordinary appearances are more successful.

Men who wear smart, fitted suits as they are often expected to wear in a formal situation, were perceived as being more confident, successful and thought to be earning a higher wage. This was compared to men who weren’t dressed as smartly — in a loosely fitted suit.

In one study that looked at the effects of clothing, it was found that senior managers were rated less favourably if they were dressed more ‘provocative’. This was a skirt slightly above the knee and one button on the blouse undone. It’s clear to see that it is important to consider our dress style carefully as people can make many assumptions without any evidence.

In some environments, wearing your set uniform can improve your productivity. Research found that in a lab, those who were wearing lab coats felt smarter and went on to perform better!

As we can see, dressing against societies expectations can have many effects on the opinion of others and your own performance. Although it’s important to express yourself through dress, you don’t want to hinder your work or your impression on others in formal situations. Wear a pair of crazy socks underneath your day-to-day outfit instead



  • http://www.lifehack.org/531957/people-who-wear-crazy-socks-are-more-brilliant-creative-and-successful
  • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3482589/Gender-stereotypes-holding-strong-Beliefs-roles-men-women-firmly-held-1980.html
  • https://www.elitedaily.com/money/people-who-wear-crazy-socks/1055248
  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/do-something-different/201304/what-your-clothes-might-be-saying-about-you


Leave a Reply


  1. February 14, 2018 / 12:58 am

    It is so true that what we wear says a lot about who we are as a person and to me I think that dressing against the norm is a lot of fun. That being said when it comes to situations like interviews there is a certain dress code that you have to adhere to.

  2. My Money Cottage
    February 8, 2018 / 2:53 pm

    I tend to be very boring with my clothes, I should probably be a little more adventurous!

  3. Kara
    February 8, 2018 / 2:48 pm

    I wish I were braver with my fashion choices but I would never be this brave. Good on them though

  4. Newcastle Family Life
    February 8, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    I am not at all fashionable or into fashion, I do love when people use fashion to show of their style and make bold choices though x

  5. Deborah Nicholas
    February 8, 2018 / 12:33 pm

    I love that yellow blazer and wish more people were as colourful!

  6. February 8, 2018 / 11:14 am

    I dress against the norm sometimes, when I am feeling quirky. Great post Miranda.

  7. The Newhouse Family
    February 8, 2018 / 10:22 am

    Very interesting. I do love jeans and tee’s but most days I wear something I little crazy. Super baggy jumpers with leggings, dungarees and lots of hippy wear. I like to be comfortable, but unique xx

  8. Mellissa Williams
    February 8, 2018 / 9:01 am

    An interesting post. I think if you dress against the norm, you stand out, and can be more confident. It certainly says something about the person.

  9. Joanna
    February 7, 2018 / 10:18 pm

    Im definitely boring when it comes to fashion. I tend to live in leggings or jeans for comfort as a stay at home mum.

  10. mummyandthechunks
    February 7, 2018 / 9:31 pm

    I am always told by my friends that I wear ‘different’ clothes and have my own style. I also wear jeans and a hoodie sometimes if I fancy that but I love long flowy skirts and dresses and they are the outfits I feel most confident in.

  11. Kate Williams
    February 7, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    Ahem, well I must admit that I am terrible for wearing the proper mum uniform of skinny jeans and a stripey top an awful lot of the time 😉 as I work from home though I don’t need any ‘office clothes’ so I don’t have to worry so much any more about what employers might think!

  12. Rebecca U
    February 7, 2018 / 6:18 pm

    I do definitely feel that I am better equipped for certain things when I dress in a certain way (like dressing smart for the office). Though I think I’ve lost some of my style since having children x

  13. Nayna Kanabar
    February 7, 2018 / 5:53 pm

    Its interesting how peope judge others from what they are wearing. Definitely at interviews it is best to wear smart and formal rather then turn up with bright smart casual. Also in mefical invironments people feel more trusting if they are sporting a white coat. Its all psychological.

  14. February 7, 2018 / 5:41 pm

    That was an interesting read. I’ve always been a bit strange with my dress sense compared to other people!

  15. February 7, 2018 / 4:21 pm

    A really interesting post, especially interesting about tightly fitting suits versus the loosely fitted ones x

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