After The Pandemic, The Office Dress Code Could Never Come Back

The association between competence and traditional dress is so durable, in part, because for years mass media have told us that machers wear well-cut suits or prim sheath dresses in neutral tones. Had our first glimpses of Mad Men’s Don Draper or Scandal’s Olivia Pope caught them in cutoffs and a raggedy souvenir T-shirt from spring break, their world-beating dominance might not have been as evident. In a twist in the we-are-what-we-wear story, researchers at Harvard identified what they called the red-sneakers effect. It posits that as long as the person ignoring workplace guidelines is perceived to be doing it purposefully, evaluations of that person improve—think Mark Zuckerberg and his “fuck you” hoodies in early Facebook business meetings. After all, there’s no greater power than being exempt from the rules that govern everyone else. For the people roaming the internet second-guessing how comfortable they can really get at work, Regan Gurung, a psychology professor at Oregon State University, has good news, in the form of another psychological bias—toward the persistence of first impressions. Read more at The Atlantic.