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How People Judge You Based on Your Style: An Experiment Done by a Montclair State Professor

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Montclair chapter.

Do you ever see someone’s fit and then think about who they are as a person? To be honest I’ve never thought about that until I went to my art and culture class one day. 

The way you dress could instantly define who you are as a person. You are practically telling society what you might believe in, hobbies that you might have and what you like. On the first day of this class my professor made us do this experiment where someone would stand up in front of the room and the students would try and make guesses about them based on their outfit.

The first student to volunteer had long wavy hair and was dressed in cargo pants, a Supreme shirt and Nike Blazers. I assumed that he skateboards and guess what? I was right. Other students asked if he resells hypebeast sportswear on an app like StockX. He said he did! Crazy right? We were also able to establish that he was the eldest child. How exactly? Who knows, but supposedly someone got that vibe by the way he dressed. 

Then another student volunteered. She was maybe five foot two and was wearing a tennis skirt, with a Montclair State University Crew Neck with a collared shirt underneath. I guessed that she liked coffee and possibly was an Instagram guru. She said she does like coffee and asked me “Dunkin’ or Starbucks?” I guessed she liked Starbucks and I was correct! She also said one of her goals is to become an Instagram influencer. One student asked if she had her Pinterest organized and she said yes! We also assumed that she likes to go thrifting as well.

I decided to volunteer. I was wearing a black sports bra, an open white collared shirt, tan straight leg plaid pants and my Air Force 1s. The room was dead silent for two or three minutes then they finally started to make assumptions. They said I have Pinterest that I use often for inspiration. I don’t use it often but when I do, I mainly use it for drawing inspo. Another student guessed I go thrifting a lot. I thrift when I can. Finally, they guessed that I’m an intricate and precise person. I was very surprised at that observation because I’ve never heard anyone say that about me. I told them I’m not an intricate person in my everyday life, more so chaotic, however, when it comes to my art I am very precise. 

It was very interesting throughout the experiment to see people pinpoint assumptions about you. Usually the way we are dressed is influenced by trends we might see and like. Examples would be the first two student volunteers having a defined style. The male student would easily be defined as a skater and the female student would be defined as a prep-school girl. Each of those styles have qualities to them as well. Usually skaters are pretty laid back and go with the flow. Sometimes they can be a little edgy and listen to blackbear or Metallica. Prep-school girls tend to be obsessed with coffee and post on Instagram a lot. Maybe you have different observations of these styles but these are some traits that stick out at me. 

After reading about this experiment do you think you’ll start noticing the assumptions you make of people? Or will you be more subconscious of how you present yourself to everyone else?

Hi my name is Kyra VandenHeuvel and I am an aspiring fashion design and merchandising student at Montclair State University. I will be graduating in the year of 2024! In my free time I like to draw, paint and watch anime. I cannot wait to share my thoughts and observations of the world of fashion and design with you!