Well, at least according to Harvard Business School’s study on the matter. A series of studies showed that people confer higher status and higher competence levels to nonconforming individuals as compared to conforming individuals.
I mean, it makes sense though. People who fall in line and dress like everyone else probably are like everybody else, and leaders and high achievers cannot be like everyone else, by their very definitions.
There’s actually quite a lot going on here too. It’s very symbolic, and Northwestern University had a study awhile back that touched upon the symbolism behind your clothing choices. In this famous study, some subjects would wear a white coat that was termed a doctor’s coat and would perform certain tasks, and other subjects would wear the same coat except in that they were told that it was a painter’s coat. The 2 groups never performed the same. Can you guess who not only performed better, but was perceived as better?
Your Tango recently released a piece discussing this, as well as some historical aspects of the crazy sock craze.
It makes you wonder though: if everyone copied this trend, would all of this research be true in the future? My guess is that probably wouldn’t be the case. You always have leaders doing something new ahead of the bell curve, that are comfortable doing something that others are not comfortable with, and by the very nature of them being leaders and first adopters, others then begin to follow them.
So, will the crazy sock = crazy cool trend last forever? Again, my guess is no, but that we’re still seeing it grow. The path to success, in my opinion, is to be comfortable in your own skin, try new things, and be confident. Oh, and say whatever clothes you’re wearing are doctors clothes.