Field researchers from the human-centered design firm IDEO are encouraged to wear “generic clothing” to conduct focus groups and interviews. “It’s better to make yourself as neutral as possible so that you can fit in with people of all backgrounds,” Maggie Zhang writes. “Oftentimes, clothing can communicate social status, or reflect personal taste that others may disagree with. Try to avoid wearing logos or looking too fancy.”
Apparently, the Democratic candidates got the IDEO memo. After seeing 12 presidential hopefuls on the circuit, I am struck by the nondescript nature of their clothes. Most of the men are in jeans with rolled-up shirt sleeves while most of the women are in all-black with a solid color sweater or jacket. There has been a sport coat or blazer thrown in here or there, but they are choosing comfort over business attire and keeping their look as plain and neutral as possible.
For most candidates, their attire is the result of deliberate strategy: what colors show up best in the media, what becomes your “signature look” (as with Hillary’s pantsuits), and what is practical to wear for long hours without wrinkles.
But even for those of us that are without an image consultant, what we wear still communicates a message about us. Put a moment of intentionality into your wardrobe choice this week. Are you going for professional, creative, bold, or traditional? Do you aim to stand out or blend in? Is your message better received if you appear formal or more casual?
Don’t let your attire be your message.
Source: 6 Tips from IDEO Designers on How to Unlock Insightful Conversation by Maggie Zhang