Business RC in CAT 2015 was taken from Association for consumer research website
Today, concern about dressing for business occupies the energies of many consumers. In some quarters, the question of what to wear to work has taken on the character of an obsession. Executives and would-be executives, goaded on by the flurry of “dress for success” books, wardrobe consultants, store promotions, and so on have discovered what they hope to be a competitive edge in the business world.
While women have traditionally been engaged in the pursuit of fashion, the present hoopla regarding appropriate clothing configurations to wear to work transcends fashion issues. There is in fact some indication that female executives are markedly unconcerned with being in fashion, while simultaneously reporting an inordinate interest in and sensitivity to clothing (Douglas and Solomon 19835.
Fashionability is simply not the basis used to evaluate or purchase in this category. In fact, fashion attributes may be antithetical to the needs of the female executive. Like men, these women now realize that clothing is vital to the communication of credibility, competence, achievement and professionalism. This goal often = dates criteria which would be anathema to the stereotypic fashion plate: conformity, standardization, sensibility, drabness — in short, the business uniform.
It is often not clear how women should go about satisfying the demands of this professional template. This dilemma was voiced in a representative guide to females entering the corporate “battlefield”:
An executive’s work clothes are not guided by comfort, looks, attractiveness, taste or novelty – they are responses to the dress orders of the day. His voluntary compliance can be crucial to his success. Upcoming women are also being judged for future potential on the basis of dress. The trouble is, nobody knows what criteria to use – not men or women, not management policy-makers…(Harragan 1977, p. 332).
Given this ambiguity, the dominant strategy appears to be to minimize risk by adopting very conservative options. In real terms, this decision often translates into mimicry of the male uniform — the conservative business suit. In fact, a recent national survey of female executives’ perceptions of clothing appropriateness revealed that the presence or absence of a jacket was the single most important factor driving these regardless of whether it was accompanied by a suit or a dress (Douglas and Solomon 1983). In essence, this masculine cue functioned to legitimize a wide range of costumes.
Women are counselled to scrupulously avoid any taint of the “little girl look” (Harragan 1977, p. 339) if they hope to maintain control over subordinates and exert authority. Those who adhere to what has been termed a managerial grooming style are viewed by co-workers (especially male evaluators) as possessing less sex-typed personalities and greater management potential (Cash 1985), and as being more credible Harp, Stretch and Harp 1985). Clothing appropriateness, then, seems to be viewed as a significant determinant of managerial effectiveness. This linkage is especially robust for those who have the most invested in being effective; a recent study found a positive relationship between preferences for a “businesslike costume” (i.e., male-like conservative) and achievement motivation (Ericksen and Sirgy 1985).