Don’t dress yourself in a McMansion wardrobe

I’ve seen the concept of a McMansion tied to several other consumer items like SUVs, fast food, and RVs (see my McMansion article for some other examples). But, I have never seen it applied to clothing:

Unlike most leading men who dress like they’re drawing up plans for a McMansion, starting with casual, often gaudy pieces and trying for respectability solely through the price tags and their all too transparent attempts at blustering nonchalance, Mr. Lewis always begins with the right foundation: tailored elements. Often the subsequent scarves upon scarves, organ grinder hats, and lurid color pairings can lead him into dangerous, Elton John lawn party, territory but when he keeps it simple and allows the vintage inspired DDL flair to remain in the details, great things happen. For example this sharp to lethal, flannel, pinstriped, DB, suit that he’s paired with a very subtle spotted tie and this optic herringbone top coat that gets turned out with woven fedora that looks like it’s gotten just the right amount of stomping.

Here is the argument: like the McMansion homeowner, the McMansion wardrobe owner emphasizes flash over substance, quick impressions over long-term gravity and style, big features and brands rather than quality and cohesion. In contrast, Daniel Day-Lewis knows how to dress in a way that matches his often lauded acting.

Things I want to know about this idea of McMansion wardrobes:

1. What clothing styles are more McMansion-like? It is about what is popular? Does it have to be tailored?

2. What brands are tied to these McMansion ideas? Are these upstart brands and designers?

3. Which leading men dress more like McMansions? I’ve heard about celebrity best/worst dressed lists but I’ve never seen a connection to McMansions. Are less “serious” actors more likely to be tied to McMansion wardrobes?

4. How does one best acquire non-McMansions tastes? Does this come with the proper training and childhood or is it a function of having enough money to spend?

A study showing the intersection of race and the status of particular jobs

Sociologists have known (and measured) for decades that different jobs or fields can have very different levels of status (the more academic term: occupational prestige). A new study puts this social fact together with identifying people of different races and came to an interesting conclusion:

When it comes to determining the race of a stranger, our minds see more than skin color. That’s the conclusion of a study co-authored by UCI sociologist Andrew Penner, which was really quite simple when it came to the research. Viewers were shown images of the same man in business attire and a janitor’s uniform. Photos of a different man were added to the mix, as were those of women. Above the photos were boxes marked “white” and “black” so the viewers could assign the race of each person shown. You can imagine what the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation-funded research found.

Tracking the movements of each viewer’s mouse as it selected the race of the model, the researchers discovered that, initially, those in the business clothing were most often perceived to be white, while those in the janitor uniforms were usually ranked as black, despite the person in the respective photos being the same person of the same race.

Keep in mind that the person being tested may have ultimately chosen the correct race of the model. What the researchers were after was that initial assumption. The pattern grew more pronounced as faces became more racially ambiguous, the study concluded.

This is a reminder that there is a lot of interplay between race and social class. There are perceptions about people in certain jobs, represented in this study by particular clothing, that override our knowledge of the skin color of the person within the clothing. In Malcolm Gladwell Blink style, we make quick assumptions and then make more “rational” conclusions.

I wonder if the researchers looked at jobs where the perceptions about those workers might be similar. Would research subjects make such quick conclusions and if so, what would guide those snap judgments?