Wearing Luxury Brands Makes You Seem More Qualified

There is this scene in the movie Shopaholic during which the quirky and very lovable protagonist REALLY needs a green scarf to feel mentally prepared for her job interview, and basically sells half of her soul to get it (for good reason as it turns out).

A new study in the Journal of Business research has found that wearing luxury brands makes you appear more qualified in job interviews. South Korean researchers from Seoul University found that people in luxury clothing would almost always get preferential treatment. This is an example of costly signalling: people wearing expensive clothing to show that they can afford it and, in turn, that have achieved a level of success.

In the study, participants were asked to estimate deserved salary for candidates wearing a luxury logo versus those who displayed a cheaper one or none at all. Over 50% put the luxury candidates in the top two salary categories. Only 12% did this for non-luxury candidates and only 10% for candidates that did not display any logo at all

However, investing in some Bottega Veneta or The Row won’t really help you – the interviewer has to be able to recognise the brand without you needing to point it out. So much for understatement. So you will have to balance visible signalling with some subtlety, as no one wants to hire a show-off.

This study obviously has some shortcomings. It is biased towards South Korea, a market where Louis Vuitton bags are notoriously sold out. It is also a very questionable finding – who would want actually to be hired based on the clothes they are wearing? Nevertheless, we all have long known that the hiring game is complex. Now we can add fashion to the list of things to think about.


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